On her debut full-length, themes of duality break open Brittney Parks’ (AKA Sudan Archives) lyrical prowess. The unearthly Athena embodies everything the rising violinist/songwriter stands for: understated feminism, electric sexuality, and rebellious vulnerability are delivered by her sultry voice.
Parks harnesses her full power as an artist with skill and spontaneity, dancing from acoustic soul to sensual R&B to experimental hip-hop, all wrapped generously in her hypnotizing violin loops and West African-inspired rhythms.
Unfolding like a cinematic score, Athena is celestial yet relatable, hitting universal notes on the complexities and dichotomies of being human. Lo-fi acoustics and smooth vocals tempt on “Did You Know?”
“Confessions” swoops in with ecstatic Sudanese-centric fiddle beats and robust lyrics about the compromises of following a dream. The album swells with orchestral-like elements and slips into glitchy electronic riffs as Parks’ voice takes on a spooky tone, like in “Green Eyes.”
The dramatic Athena rounds off in moody jazz ensconced with a voice of liquid gold dripping onto sun-baked earth.
Parks pulls us from one side of the coin to the other, both soothing and energizing us all the while.