As a teenager, Tirzah Mastin was on the path to becoming a classically trained harpist. Attending music school, she found more joy in the songs she created with classmate Mica Levi. After finishing school, Tirzah worked as a print designer, treating music as a hobby. She released a pair of EPs in her twenties but her debut album Devotion, recorded with Levi, didn’t emerge until after she had turned 30.
Levi has enjoyed success as a musician, both in the worlds of pop and classical – they’re best known for their film scores for movies like Jackie and Under the Skin, the latter endorsed by Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Tirzah’s vocals are sweet and gentle, sounding gorgeous in front of Levi’s electronics. Levi’s backdrops resemble deconstructed R&B and pop. Tirzah’s supported by a trusted circle of collaborators – alongside childhood friend Levi, Tirzah’s partner Kwake Bass is her live music director.
Tirzah Album Reviews
Devotion | Colourgrade
When Tirzah recorded her debut album it was only a sideline to her career as a print designer. Accordingly, Devotion was recorded during the final month of her maternity leave, after the birth of her first child. Even though Tirzah’s music is more like a side hustle than a fulltime pursuit, Devotion is a very impressive debut. The combination of Tirzah’s hushed and intimate vocals, and Levi’s gently unsettling music is magical.
While there’s a uniform downbeat sound running through the album, Levi provides a diverse palette of musical colours. The heavy guitars of ‘Guilty’ and the glitchy synths of ‘Holding On’ contrast with the cleaner arrangements like the piano of ‘Affection’ and Coby Sey’s backing vocals on the title track.
Devotion is a splendid debut, the partnership between Tirzah and Levi resulting in gently beguiling music.
Tirzah moved to the suburbs before recording her second album, quitting her day job to pursue music full time. The press release for Colourgrade cites “a type of love that is shared between a mother and a child for the first time, whilst simultaneously working as an artist.” Where Devotion was occasionally disquieting, Levi pushes the envelope further on Colourgrade, pitting Tirzah’s low-key vocals against increasingly jarring music.
As well as Levi, Coby Sey also returns, dueting with Tirzah on ‘Hive Mind’. Colourgrade sometimes tilts into experimental territory, as on ‘Crepuscular Rays’, where the vocal effects are trippy and there’s less clear song structure. But usually, the combination is beguiling – whether the production is abrasive like on ‘Tectonic’ or pretty R&B on ‘Sink In’.
Colourgrade is often beautiful, even as Levi pushes Tirzah into stranger musical waters.
Best Tirzah Songs
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