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The Earliest Bird: Top New Recorded Release serpentwithfeet’s “DEACON’s Grove” EP, 11-5-21 – 11-11-21

You can’t overestimate serpentwithfeet (aka Josiah Wise), over the seven years since his first single Josiah has proven himself incapable of a dud, he hasn’t even had a bad song. His two full length albums, 2018’s soil and the current Deacon, are both among my own personal top ten albums of the year. At Bjork’s stunning The Shed performances in 2019 (here) I called serpentwithfeet one of the best things about the best concert of that year.

Josiah was born into an ultra religious household (his father ran a Christian bookstore) and sang for his mother’s Church choir, veering towards a career as an opera singer he came to New York from a residency in Paris to start performing neo-soul. The rest is experimental hip hop soul, he is on a Brockhampton track on their latest if that will buy you a vowel.

An addendum to Deacon (why he didn’t just release a Deluxe Edition is between him and god) Deacon’s Grove has two new songs, one of which, the children’s nursery rhyme “Down Nuh River” is amongst his best songs, a “Hyacinth” with strings, a remix of “Fellowship” which adds Roc Nation signing Ambré and Ashley Isley (her father and Uncles are the Isley Brothers), and the voices are yearning and lovely and add shading and texture to a tremendous song.

As five song remix EPs go it is hard to imagine it better and it is, at least, interesting that while Josiah’s branding emphasises his homosexuality, it matters less and less to his real artistry. PS: tix for his Webster Hall gig in February goes on sale at 10am today (November 5th)

Grade: A

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