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Cots — Disturbing Body
(Bandcamp Boiled Records, 2021, LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-02-18

Disturbing Body Cover art

Steph Yates is an artist whose work encompases sculpture, poetry, and other media as well as music. She’s involved with at least two bands (Esther Grey and Cupcake Ductape), but as a solo artist, she’s chosen the name Cots. On her debut full-length, her guitar and vocals are augmented by a number of guests on bass, percussion, trumpet, keyboards, and saxophone, but the result is so minimalistic you’d never know so many people were involved (though admittedly a couple of them only appear on a single track). The phrase “bedroom pop” would be appropriate, though I picture it more in a living room, with Yates gathered together with some friends who brought their instruments and join in from time to time. Some of the guitar parts have the flavor of mellow bossa nova, and her breathy voice is indeed reminiscent of classic Brazilian singers like Astrud Gilberto. The songs have good melodies and appealing chords, and it’s welcome to hear that most of the time she’s finger-picking Latin rhythms rather than just strumming chords. This is intimate music delivered with a deliberately low-key aesthetic, putting the focus on Yates’ delicate voice and her carefully-chosen words. All the other elements are secondary, lovely enhancements that never take center stage. I can imagine some of these songs done with fuller arrangements, along the lines of Gilberto / Getz, and I’m sure they’d be wonderful that way as well. As it is, this is artistic lazy-afternoon music that can be enjoyed on several levels.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Cots (Steph Yates)

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