Brooklyn-based artist Nandi Rose Plunkett has been making music for her project Half Waif for a little over half of a decade, but it feels that now more than ever she’s on the cusp of breaking through to a larger audience. Since the beginning, her focus has been on crafting a delicate blend of classically inflected vocal melodies and hyper-modern electronica. Someone will probably come for me for saying it, but I’m tempted to draw a comparison between Half Waif and Flume, or at least between some of the otherworldly textures and syncopation that characterize significant portions of their respective bodies of work.
Conspicuously absent from “Back in Brooklyn,” the third and final single ahead of Lavender’s Apr. 27 release date, are those same electronic features that populate the vast majority of her discography to date. Instead, Plunkett’s vocals and piano are the main characters in a largely soft-spoken ballad that offers reflections on being away from home — love, separation and the interplay between the two. On the one hand, “It’s easy and it’s right / It’s freezing and it’s bright / It’s everything I like,” sings Plunkett, referring to the city she calls home. On the other, “It’s easier to stay / Half a world away / Forgetting every name.” In between, the mention of someone, presumably a lover, whom the narrator calls upon her return. “‘Where have you been?’ / Don’t ask me that,” she anticipates their conversation.
After lulling her listener into a daze, Plunkett silences herself to a whisper. But it’s when she makes this comparison that her voice crests, grating with emotion in the song’s most cathartic moment: “Listen for me now,” she shouts. It’s hard to tell what exactly Plunkett means when she sings that she’s “Casting off (her) half-empty shell,” but it’s hard not to believe her. Like her songs, Plunkett becomes more complex with every passing moment. Lavender could be any number of things, but it’s bound to be captivating.