Morgan Kibby doesn’t do small scale. The mastermind behind White Sea was born in Barrow, Alaska, a barren tundra outpost, the northernmost inhabited city in the United States. By age 6, she was performing with the San Francisco Opera, albeit as one of the “little people.” Only a decade later, she fronted the short-lived, award-winning theatre-punk troupe the Romanovs. A few years later, she performed in arenas as M83’s not-so-secret weapon, contributing captivating vocals on Saturdays=Youth and co-writing their chart-conquering hit “Midnight City.” But only now, with the release of her debut album as White Sea, has Kibby found a proper forum, something big enough to put her powerful voice and ambitions on full display. In Cold Blood is a lifetime’s achievement – necessarily expansive enough to contain Kibby’s multitudes and complexities as an artist: the music itself is tremendously confident while her lyrics grapple with crippling uncertainty. The songs put her emotional vulnerability to the fore, while the exquisite production and arrangements – all done by Kibby herself – serve a bold declaration of feminine power. It’s a personal record that demands an arena setting. Kibby wrote, produced and arranged the album herself. “I did try to capture this huge feeling that happens when you listen to a record from the 70s it’s respectful to the listener. I want to give people something they want to keep on vinyl.” But this is about the only link Kibby maintains to classic rock ideals, as indicated by White Sea’s amalgamation of disco, industrial rhythms and synth-pop drama. Kibby believes her first truly great art came when she commenced writing music with Anthony Gonzalez of M83. Their collaborations resulted in “Skin of the Night” and “We Own the Sky,” highlights from a record that saw M83 transition from a critically-acclaimed source of cinematic synthscapes to a maker of blockbuster hits – on their wildly successful 2011 album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, Kibby cowrote both “Midnight City” as well as its follow-up “Reunion.” White Sea started to take shape after Kibby disembarked from the grueling Saturdays=Youth tours, working on music that was more personal – not just in the sense that it was all of her doing, but also it allowed her to bare more of her soul than the “tableau writing” she often did with Gonzalez. Of course, after pushing through both the internal and external doubt, Kibby is welcoming everyone in on In Cold Blood and it’s big enough to accommodate them all. “No one’s really heard what I do outside of M83, this is me, this is my first body of work.”
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