"What Is This Heart?"
Tom Krell speaks in R&B, cloaked in the reassuring, unassuming wrappings of intimate indie pop. His voice is silky and limber and flows with ease and grace, like the best R&B singers—just without getting lost in the trappings of dance beats and saxophones. The Colorado artist has steadily refined his sound for his third album, “What Is This Heart?”. Krell’s cynical lyrics (“Tell me what love’s supposed to be,” "Who knows if I love you, baby?”), his regal synth washes (“Face Again” has a stupefying numbers of soundscapes for such a cohesive track), and the collection’s dark, hope-perforated tones (especially on “See You Fall”) are inarguably seductive. Disembodied vocals, fingersnaps, and plentiful reverb might offer no real surprises, but delivering those (masterfully used) alongside sweeps of orchestral grandeur (“Pour Cyril”) and commercial pop sensibilities (“Very Best Friend”) takes special vision. Influences as disparate as Prince, Michael Jackson, Tracy Chapman, and even Whitney Houston have never been treated like this.