"This is the face of someone who loves you babe," goes a line in California musician Banks' single, "Contaminated," from last year's critically-acclaimed album, III. Like any singer/ songwriter in total command of her voice and words, she lets the line hover in the still air of Capitol Studios' legendary performance and recording space. It's a comfort nowadays to see and hear a voice as raw and real as Banks', breaking through the digital ether that has become our new normal.
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The Capitol Studios performance of "Contaminated" is one of four stripped versions of original recordings that Banks is unveiling this week, and it premieres today on PAPER. Acoustic, single-take treatments of three additional tracks — "If We Were Made of Water and "Stroke," also from III, as well as "Drowning," the hit single from Banks' 2014 debut album Goddess — comprise an EP called Live and Stripped, out Friday (April 3).
In the black-and-white video for "Contaminated," Banks stands at a mic and lets her graceful runs carry the song's lyrics, which detail a relationship gone sour. The series of videos and re-recorded songs she's releasing this week were created pre-quarantine, and give a window into Banks' vulnerable, yet fearless creative process.
"Most of my songs are written on the piano before anything else, so it is a gift to be able to share these acoustic versions of songs with my fans during this tough time," Banks says. "We cannot physically be near each other right now, so I am using music as a tool to bring us together.'"
Stream "Contaminated (Live and Stripped)" here, and the acoustic version of "Drowning," below.
Photo courtesy of Capitol Records