‘It’s like you’re being injected with a polyrhythmic drug determined to get you moving!’
Intro to KAWALA:
As a rule, I tend not to include an artist more than once
in Listen to Discover’s weekly Spotify Playlist feature. However sometimes, and most definitely in the case of KAWALA, it’s a rule that’s worth breaking. Initially featured in October 2018’s Friday Finds, ‘Do It Like You Do’ sounded like an instant hit and with more than 5 million streams to date, clearly a lot of other people thought the same. However, with such great success before, would the follow up track from this London
based band featuring lead vocalist Jim Higson, guitarist and vocalist Daniel McCarthy, drummer Ben Batten, bassist Reeve Coulson and guitarist Dan Lee, be another ‘Runaway’ hit?
Beginning unassumingly, we are drawn into the opening of what is to be an incredibly misleading track. Containing a sense of reserved energy, the rhythmically finger picked acoustic guitar, with it’s delicate sustained backing, certainly gives off a sense of understated musicality. Likewise the initial lyrics bring a wonderful sense of warmth. In short it’s relaxing and calming and given KAWALA’s previous releases, this may come as a surprise. However, while the solo vocal seamlessly transforms into cosy sounding close harmonies, the calming sound is about to change.
Signalling a definite change in momentum, a drum strike is heard and the reserved energy bursts to life. Breaking through from nowhere, the atmosphere quickly evolves to become crammed with driving rhythms and drum fills which generate an afro-beat influenced, groove inducing sound. Meanwhile, the earlier guitar lines develop and becoming more intricate at every turn, you wonder how much better it can get. Even better is the answer.
Giving us variations in word setting, the reflectively rhythmic delivery of ‘I’m on a late train’ contrasts with the later descending tones of ‘follow the line.’ In terms of lyrical development it’s a delight. However, not to be outdone, the appropriately full-throttle rhythms in the accompanying textures are joined by tropical sounding electric guitar counter melodies and lightly picked bass. Generating even greater energy than before, it’s like you’re being injected with a polyrhythmic drug determined to get you moving.
Having settled fully into the groove of the track, the musical encouragement even continues through the stripped back second verse. Allowing the vocals to be showcased like the opening one, but set to an instrumentally restrained version of the chorus textures just heard, it balances both aspects of track to this point. It’s truly wonderful and cleverly giving us a chance to catch our breath, we are prepared for the subsequent injections that are sure to come.
Ensuring that the track offers enough ebb and flow, on reaching the bridge the sound gets stripped to its bare bones with rhythmic finger picks being replaced by detached strums. Creating more empty space than until now, a more folk-inspired sound emerges and in giving the vocals real prominence, a more heartfelt level of connection is found. However, with the recurrence of the lyrics ‘Oh I know that you want it, oh it’s all so emotional’ the track builds to what you would expect to be the climax. But it isn’t.
Instead, the acoustically led sound reappears one final time to further enhance the earlier connection. This time though, with the harmonic movement shifting simultaneously with the lyrics of ‘let’s try make it right this time now‘ the emphasis is brought in a subtle yet strong way. It’s actually quite beautiful and if it wasn’t for the fact we get a final injection of energy, it would be a wonderful ending. However, the fact that we do get that final burst makes us want even more.