belated tune: Kwabs, “The Wilhelm Scream” (James Blake cover)

…and I don’t know what to say, except “Wow.” It’s kind of a wonder that in six weeks in Ghana, I didn’t hear about this guy.

Ghanaian-British artist Kwabs is now just beginning to get the attention he deserves. He’s got one of those rare voices that stops you in whatever you’re doing when you first hear it: powerful, too-deep, seemingly too huge to be contained by any roofed venue. But his restraint and sheer artistic ambition are what make this rework of James Blake’s “The Wilhelm Scream.”

Blake’s original is a sparse, hopeless masterpiece that, after every verse, features his fragile vocals settling at a fractured resolve: “Might as well fall in,” he decides. (Likewise the inspiration for “The Wilhelm Scream”–“Where To Turn”, from his father James Litherland–leave the speaker with tearing indecision.)

But Kwabs will have none of that. He shifts gears just before resolving to desolation, and instead invests his hope in a love. The product is deeply affecting; each line is delivered with impossible richness, and Kwab’s new lyrics strike a perfect balance between defeat and confidence that things will soon be better. Mmph.

You can jump on this soulful bandwagon, and also hear a few other songs, now by following Kwabs on Twitter and checking out his relatively new tumblr (which has some anecdotes from a recent visit to Ghana buried in there).

Lyrics for Kwab’s reworked cover of “The Wilhelm Scream”, as transcribed from this hand-written lyric sheet:

I don’t know about my dreams
I don’t know about my dreamin’ anymore
All that I know is
I’m fallin’, fallin’, fallin’, fallin’

I don’t know about my love
I don’t know about my lovin’ anymore
All that I know is
I’m fallin’, fallin’, fallin’, fallin’
…I’m fallin’ for you

Where are all the stars?
Where are all the walls keeping us apart?
Well light the light and break them down
I don’t want them around
I want the one who doesn’t know
Who takes me to and fro
Well love me still, keep me safe
All is joy when I’m awake
What is this feeling for?
What is this loving I can’t ignore?
Well, I don’t know, I can’t say
All that I know… 

I don’t know about my dreams
I don’t know about my dreamin’ anymore
All that I know is
I’m fallin’, fallin’, fallin’, fallin’

I don’t know about my dreams
I don’t know about my dreamin anymore
All that I know is
I’m fallin’, fallin’, fallin’, fallin’

I don’t know about my love
About my love anymore
All that I know is
I’m fallin’, fallin’, fallin’, fallin’