Originally published on So So Gay on 31 May 2015.
Following her well-received debut EP last year, Billie Black follows it up this year with Teach Me, a six-track collection that the young artist claims is ‘more of a development from where I was with the first EP – more R&B/Soul sounding’.
Opening with the entrancing ‘Hung Up’, the 19-year-old starts things off with a rather grand and rich ambiance that swells around her delicate yet mature sounding voice. Title track ‘Teach Me’ builds on the vibe of ‘Hung Up’, adding more pronounced percussion and richer top notes that fleshes out the music to make a more commercial and single-ready sound.
‘Going Under’ is the only significant musical detour on the EP – ‘My first real upbeat track,’ admits Black. With instrumentation reminiscent of the early 90s dance sound, she demonstrates she can successfully apply her voice to more beat-driven tracks. However, it’s arguably one of the less interesting tracks on her new EP, as it gets a little lost under its generic drum loops and a chorus that sounds like an amalgamation of several tracks from that bygone era – even if it does have a catchy beat.
Followed by ‘What I Got’, this mid-tempo number falls back in line with the opening tracks, both in sound and quality. Teach Me‘s fifth track, the twinkling and dreamy darkness of ‘Music Box’ is arguably the EP’s most interesting moment, with a gentle march that finds Black embracing the deeper end of her vocal range. Bringing things to a close with ‘Real Love’, the tempo picks up once again and is much more successful than the slightly derivative sound of ‘Going Under’.
More R&B-lite passed through a subdued electronic filter than straightforward R&B/Soul, Teach Me is nevertheless an interesting soundscape full of rich basslines that complement Black’s sweet vocal. An all too easy EP to dismiss on first listen, the Londoner’s latest output is worth persisting with to appreciate the finer points of a well-crafted yet understated collection.
Standout tracks: ‘Teach Me’ / ‘Music Box’ / ‘Real Love’