Home Read Albums Of The Week: Santigold | Spirituals

Albums Of The Week: Santigold | Spirituals

Overcoming severe writer's block and pandemic hell, the maverick artist smoothes out her edgy electro sound with some sweeter melodies and soothing synthesizers.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Spirituals is Santigold’s first full-length album since 2016’s 99¢, and was mostly recorded during the 2020 lockdown. “All of a sudden there I was with three small children out of school — just-turned-two-year-old twins and a six-year-old,” she recalls. “I was cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and changing diapers from morning to night, with three little kids coming in and out of my bed throughout each night like musical chairs. I was losing touch with the artist me, stuck in a part of myself that was too small. I felt the other parts of me were shrinking, disappearing.”

Santigold struggled but succeeded in defining a space in which she could center herself and collaborate virtually with producers and contributors: Rostam, Boys Noize, Dre Skull, P2J, Nick Zinner, SBTRKT, JakeOne, Illangelo, Doc McKinney, Psymun, Ricky Blaze, Lido, Ray Brady and Ryan Olson. “Recording this album was a way back to myself after being stuck in survival mode. It wasn’t until I made the space to create that I realized I wasn’t only creating music but a lifeline,” she says. California was on fire, we were hiding from a plague, the social justice protests were unfolding.

“I’d never written lyrics faster in my life. After having total writer’s block, they started pouring out. I decided to create the future, to look towards where we are going, to create beauty and pull towards that beauty. I need that for myself, but it’s also there for whoever else needs it.

“I loved the idea of calling it Spirituals because it touched on the idea of Negro spirituals, which were songs that served the purpose of getting Black people through the un-get-throughable. In the absence of physical freedom, spirituals have traditionally been music whose sound and physical performance allow its participants to feel transcendental freedom in the moment. That’s what this record did for me.”

First single Ain’t Ready Ain’t Ready “is a song I started with Illangelo. Dre Skull and Sbtrkt came on board to help bring it home — another true collaboration of such distinct and amazing talent. It was one of those songs where as soon as I opened my mouth the whole melody just poured out. There were no words but all the emotion was there. To me, the song sounded full of struggle and perseverance. It sounded like a battle, and I wanted the production to sound tough, to mirror that grit. I struggled to find the right lyrics at first, but when I got them right, and I started singing them one night in my studio alone, I cried. This song was my own battle song. It’s about taking the hits that life brings and getting back up. It’s about change and moving forward. It’s about faith and vision. And it’s about stepping into your own power.”