Sure, Gaga, Usher and Bon Jovi (#al­waysliv­ing on­aprayer) are drop­ping records this fall, but make sure you don’t miss these hot al­ter­na­tives.

ELLE (Canada) - - Radar - By Sarah lainG

You can’t tell by the soft, mea­sured tone of her voice (over the phone in a ho­tel lobby, muzak-y pi­ano tin­kling in the back­ground), but Banks finds dis­cussing her new al­bum, The Al­tar, like, the worst. “I feel re­ally ex­posed,” says the 28-year-old Cal­i­for­nian known in civil­ian life as Jil­lian Banks. “I feel like a flimsy piece of plas­tic being ex­am­ined.”

Banks’ de­but al­bum, God­dess, was a critical favourite in 2014—even though its mes­mer­iz­ing blend of R&B, elec­tron­ica and girl-at-a-pi­ano lyri­cal depth left peo­ple scratch­ing their heads as to her genre. She started mak­ing mu­sic in her early 20s as “a sin­gu­lar, reclu­sive thing” that helped her process life. The cathar­tic ef­fect con­tin­ues with her sec­ond al­bum, out Septem­ber 30: “I’m of­ten sur­prised by what comes out,” she says. “Cer­tain emo­tions that I’ve tried to block out come bub­bling up.”

She finds it kind of ironic, then, when com­plete strangers ask her to ex­plain, in great length and de­tail, what her songs are about. “I write about these things be­cause I can’t ar­tic­u­late them any other way, so to have to talk about them... it’s ex­haust­ing,” she says. “I’m a re­ally pri­vate per­son.”

On this al­bum, these “things” vary widely: There’s “Lovesick,” an unashamed lay-it-all-out-there in­vi­ta­tion to a lover (with a spooky disco-y vibe); “Mother Earth,” which sounds like the very best of Aaliyah-era R&B gone acous­tic; and “To the Hilt,” with its heart­break­ingly raw sor­row. “I was sick for two weeks af­ter writ­ing that song,” says Banks. “My songs are parts of my body,” she says, when asked to choose the one she’s most proud of cre­at­ing. “I can’t choose an arm or a leg to cut off.”

Lis­ten­ing to her de­scribe her craft is ac­tu­ally a great in­tro­duc­tion to the in­ten­sity and in­tel­li­gence of her mu­sic. “This is me in sonic form,” she says. “This is the lan­guage I’m most flu­ent in. Mu­sic is my clos­est friend—the love of my life.”

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