Jillian Rose Banks, more commonly referred to by her last name in all caps, fuses her voice with electronic production to deliver a beautiful and haunting album. Similar to Ellie Golding and The Weekend, her voice is the main draw and also melds well with synthesized beats to create a truly unique sound. The songs from her third album, aptly titled III, show her power as a vocalist as well as her vulnerability. Like most great music, the juxtaposition of these contrasting elements of beauty and darkness build a strong and soothing musical experience.
III opens strong with “Till Now,” a song that continually raises the anticipation. By overlaying samples of BANKS’s voice, the introduction to the album builds a harmonious cacophony that is both jarring and alluring. Even the end of the song, after building up for two and a half minutes, ends with a final repetition of the chorus followed by a sharp exhale. It stresses the capability of her voice and drops the listener off without warning in the next song, “Gimme.” Produced by Hudson Mohawk, “Gimme” dabbles in darkness with a take it or leave it love song. There is no use pining after one another and BANKS makes her intention clear that he can give her what she wants or they can be over. Hudson brings a growling ambiance to the beat, which can also be heard later in the album on his other collaboration, “The Fall.”
Behind the scenes of BANKS’s excellence are her producers, such as BJ Burton who helped produce all but two songs on the album. BANKS has described Burton’s style as a, “romantic dragon”. This is most apparent in the strongest song from the album, “Look What You’re Doing To Me.” Featuring Francis and the Lights, the collaboration brings his signature Phil Collin-esq voice that is a perfect complement to BANKS. Most songs on III deal with troubled love, illustrating a sharp edge that keeps the two lovers coming back to each other even though they are constantly in a state of doubt.
While Burton and Mohawk highlight the power and darkness harbored inside BANKS, producer Buddy Ross shows off BANKS’s tender side. Ross’s influence can best be heard in the final two songs of the album, “If We Were Made of Water” and “What About Love.” Both tracks strip away the auto-tune accompanying BANKS on the earlier part of the album and uses a softer touch to emphasize her voice. Her lyrics, “If we were made of water, maybe we could swim around it/ But I just can’t believe no more,” settles the intriguing ambiguity throughout the album that the romance is over. While the opening song of III raised the anticipation and dropped the listener into the depths of the album, “What About Love” calmly wraps up the album and signifies the end of BANKS third studio journey.
Combining strong vocals, a pinch of venom, and a base of uncertain love, BANKS continues to explore the versatility of her voice. Through strong collaborations, her singing is amplified to showcase her voice in the best light. III is worth listening to, and you may even find yourself listening on repeat.