On "In A Bind," Lætitia Tamko shows that subtlety isn't dead, with a stunning, romantic acoustic guitar ballad.



Pop music is relatively unavoidable in 2019. A few months shy of 20 years into the new millennium, maybe we're so inured to The Spectacle, so immersed in reality show competition, that we've just sort of resigned ourselves to vocal cartwheels, shimmering vocal melisma, over-the-top emotions that wouldn't sound of place in a high school musical. It seems so many musicians, even punk and indie musicians, want to be Christina Aguilera or Sia. The trouble is, when you don't have the chops to pull that off - or, even more importantly, the heart - it just comes off as shrill and forced.

"In A Bind," a single off of Lætitia Tamko's - the singer/songwriter behind Vagabon - such a cool breeze in a Cyberdyne landscape of post-aPOPalyptic landscape of cynical market-driven musical product. It's a sign that subtlety isn't dead. It's as refreshing as delicate wildflowers breaking through the permafrost as winter gives way to spring.

"In A Bind" is noteworthy in how normal it is, how classic. Lyrically, it's a tragic, heartbroken love song, about a lover who won't give Tamko the attention she craves. Musically, it's sparse, just sparkling, sterling acoustic guitar arpeggios, occasionally punctuated by thick, warm wordless choral harmonies; plucks of pizzicato strings; shimmering synthesizers and subtle shakers. Apart from the synths and crystalline reverb, "In A Bind" could be from 1819 as 2019.

Tamko's Cameroon accent is utterly charming, warm as honey left in the sunshine, as is her production. Lætitia Tamko produced All Of The Woman In Me herself, ranging from crisp, modern Indie Pop production to more delicate fare. "In A Bind" finds Vagabon in a more intimate mode, akin to classic acoustic folk records like something from Joni Mitchell, Sibylle Baier, or Nico minus John Cale's orchestral bombast. Here's to hoping she ends up as iconic. With this being only her second album, Vagabon is an awe-inspiring talent that you should be watching, and listening to, obsessively. We Are: The Guard will be, that's for sure.


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.