“All the women I meet are tired,” sings 26-year-old Laetitia Tamko, a.k.a. Vagabon, on the closing track of her self-titled sophomore LP. Tamko, from a motif standpoint, picks up where she left off on her breakout release Infinite World: it’s a difficult task to be yourself in a world that is so unrelenting in its alienation and judgements.

But while her 2017 record was straightforward indie rock that owed just as much to Tracy Chapman as it did to Guided By Voices, Vagabon is a free flowing and organic piece of electronic pop that proves Tamko is willing to be even more transparent than before. The Cameronian born, New Yorkbased songwriter simultaneously breaks your heart and comforts you with melodies and gorgeous composition. Her lyrics, often dealing with anxiety and angst, provide the unique perspective of someone who’s been both a wallflower and a sore thumb in the art scene. 

Social observations aside, Tamko is the kind of artist whose work also speaks to universal truths and the kind of emotional turmoil that knows no color line. 

Vagabon’s lead single, Flood, showcases this with lines like, “I know even if I run from it I’m still in it, I know I’ll hold you so close.” It’s clear that the philosophy of this project is rooted in unpacking those deep emotional crevices that cut through the listener. 

"Tamko is the kind of artist whose work also speaks to universal truths and the kind of emotional turmoil that knows no color line."

There’s a sense that Vagabon, on and off the stage, is unburdened by petty aesthetics and performative apathy. Her goal is both straightforward, yet complicated. She’s attempting to cut to your core, regardless of what that means for branding and mainstream “appeal.”

It’s what makes her latest release so potent: it’s an artist coming to terms with the contradictions of her work. Her music is introspective and fierce; the glowing, thoughtful textures of her composition illuminate not only a sense of sonic autonomy but also serve to free the listener of judgement. There’s something comforting, yet empowering about the way Tamko directs her music. 

That’s why the Vagabon project in its current iteration, from a performance perspective, is more akin to a Nina Simone concert than, say, a Beach House or Angel Olsen show. When Tamko performs as Vagabon, she plays the role of a symbiotic musical therapist; hers is a practice that benefits both herself and the viewer. Social, cultural, and genre expectations be damned. 

In an era where being ironic and disengaged is the norm, Vagabon creates music that makes you feel both naked and unafraid.

To experience her music live, check out her show on November 22nd at Brooklyn Steel with Angel Olsen.

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