Single of the week: Naima Bock – Toll review

by Craig Howieson

There is an oft repeated fact that ‘the amount of energy running through a sunflower per gram per second is greater than in the Sun.’ It is a fitting metaphor for the fact that it is often the smallest of things which hold the most power. It is also a fact which sprung to mind upon repeated listens of the beautiful new single, Toll, from Sub-Pop signee, Naima Bock.

From its unassuming origins with acoustic guitar and feather light woodwind flourishes, the track immediately sets out its stall as a lighthouse of promise amidst the stormiest of nights. Reminiscent of exquisitely crafted new folk wanderings of Syrian-American artist, Bedouine, with whom Bock shares a similar timbre to her voice, the track could quite easily fade away at the two minute mark, and nearly does. But a change of heart brings the percussion rolling in, and a new waltz-like levity courses through the song’s veins.

Bock’s music is like discovering you have a false wall when renovating your house. That, once knocked down, reveals a chamber of trinkets to unearth. The virtuosic flute solo of Alex McKenzie in the final throws defies convention, but doesn’t once sound out of place on a track from an artist unconstrained by genre norms. Bock has no need to pummel the listener with vocal acrobatics or audio tricks. Her power lies in her ability to pin you to your seat with the strength of her songwriting. 

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