Tawni Bias Hits with SEL Fellow
There’s so many different ways SEL Fellow, the most recent release from Tawni Bias, stands out from the crowd that it’s hard not to list them.
For starters there’s his almost undue reliance on his falsetto. Granted, there are tunes when he sings in his natural voice, such as on “Flare Intropin”. However, he holds down the majority of the album with a silky high pitched voice that almost defines the term crooning and, by extension, himself as a crooner.
But there’s also a plethora of voices that he adds to his own, some of which appear to be multi-track recordings of the singer who appears to have produced most of this opus. Many of those have unusual sounding effects which, when combined with some novel phrasing or just sounds he creates with his vocals, certainly distinguishes him from the conventional vocalist. “Cardamom” typifies this penchant of the artist, which melds into the somewhat eerie synths that scatter in and out of the track.
But as the aforementioned two cuts reveal, dude also has a way with words for the titles of these tunes. What exactly does “Intropin” mean, you might wonder? What (or perhaps who) is a “Cardamom”? In other instances his wordplay is more traditional, but none the less esoteric, as is demonstrated on “Two Poodles One Cake”—which is a hell of a concept song if ever there were one.
Forsooth “Poodles” serves as a part two to the album’s opener, “Admonition”, in which the artist issues fair warning that the album will be smooth, largely bereft of drums, and characterized by ethereal acoustic guitars and what sounds like a muted trumpet, of all things. The two numbers “Admonition” and “Poodles” segue into each other without a pause, delivering something so sonorous that one could easily either go to sleep or awaken to what’s simply a continuation of melody. It’s quite an experience, and indicative of the album as a whole.
On certain songs he trades in the acoustic guitar that dominates most of the album for keys, some of which sound like they’ve been programmed for voice sounds. However, the guitar is one of the constants, and an excellent way to think about this album and all of its idiosyncrasies.