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Nothing Sounds Quite Like Vagabon’s ‘Flood Hands’

Vagabon’s All the Women in Me comes out Sept. 27. Tonje Thilesen/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Tonje Thilesen/Courtesy of the artist

Maybe the title of the 2017 album Infinite Worlds was prophetic: by the time Lætitia Tamko took these songs on tour with the likes of Julien Baker and Courtney Barnett, the shapes spun out of their ragged indie-rock clothes and became amorphous, with deeper synthetic textures. Not only the sound but the songs’ urgent search for meaning slowly began to expand outward. For those lucky to witness it, Tamko was very quickly redefining her lane in real time. And now, nothing sounds quite like Vagabon.

All the Women in Me is Vagabon’s first album for Nonesuch Records an unexpected, but perfectly suited flex as she joins a roster featuring Rhiannon Giddens, Laurie Anderson and David Byrne. She wrote and produced every song, and for the album’s lead single, “Flood Hands,” she performs every single instrument.


“‘Flood Hands’ is a track I originally produced and arranged for a well-known pop duo to have on their album,” Tamko writes in a press release. “Knowing I was writing this song for musicians I admire allowed me this relief from my writer’s block. I used this assignment as a chance to flex my production muscles and write something I wouldn’t have written as a ‘Vagabon’ song a couple years ago. The result felt like a triumph for me in my progression as an artist and I just couldn’t stand to part with the song by the time I was finished.”

Spend some time with the watery guitar that glides just above Tamko’s resonant tenor (now also sporting an airy falsetto), the slickly piercing synth and the sparse-yet-striking beat production Vagabon’s been expanding to this dense space where the weight of the world floats.

Even the dramatic drum fill that introduces the chorus gets twisted by Tamko’s touch. Rather than explode with guitars blaring, she stays inside the quiet of the moment to acknowledge the fragile gift of one’s heart: “I know even if run from it I’m still in it / I know I’ll hold you so close / I know even if I run from it I’m still in it / I know in my heart.”

All the Women in Me is due out Sept. 27 via Nonesuch Records.

Rock : NPR