Live on KEXP at Home: Empress Of

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Wed Jul 1, 12 pm
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It was on the fourth listen that a lyric made me pause: "I feel like I'm on the outside looking in / When I'm with him." And then another: "I don't know how to love now, I pretend / When I'm with him." An out-of-love song unspooled before me. I'd mistaken entrapment for care. The music of Los Angeles-based producer-musician Lorely Rodriguez, aka Empress Of, does this expertly, this balancing of the light and heavy. A first-generation Honduran-American, Rodriguez seamlessly weaves together lyrics in both English and Spanish, the two languages nimble in their own respective ways, one supporting the song when the other can't. In "Trust Me Baby," her notes scrape great heights and settle back down into a near sing-talk rhythm, darting in and out of Spanish: "Confía en mí / Trust me baby." On her latest record, Us, the beats are eminently danceable. Synth-driven melodies are airy and bright and remind me of that favorite spot on the back of my neck where the sun hits just so. The production often includes dense, wonky, pulsating percussion that can be felt in your body and makes you want to move. Don't believe me? Turn on "Just the Same." JASMYNE KEIMIG


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