Crawl Space documents Valerie Teicher’s transformation from the cautious and curious new kid on the block to the confident, self-possessed artist, Tei Shi. Written and recorded over a year and a half, the album traces a much wider arc, from Tei Shi’s earliest musical explorations to this, her first long player. Growth is never easy, though, and if the title makes the process sound difficult, even claustrophobic, that’s because it was.
Constant motion is a fact of life. A real, physical crawlspace fits only one person and demands that person move forward, out, and through it. Tei Shi’s debut evokes this feeling and the experience of changing focus and centering oneself. There’s a palpable physicality surrounding this record, and it reveals itself everywhere; from the album’s song titles, to it’s rhythms, lyrics, and even it’s cover art. Throughout every song, Tei Shi brings a remarkable clarity to the very act of vulnerability, from exposing oneself to inviting others in. Keep Running, the album opener and lead single is as telling a song as any, balancing futuristic, deconstructed pop with an expert dash of new wave. Tei Shi’s voice cuts through with a sweet melody and a warning to, “keep running, keep running for me.” It is as much a command as an act of mercy, and the urgency is met with the finality of a refrain that time is up. How Far explores the actions needed when a relationship becomes destructive; when you’re trying to change one another into something the other person simply cannot be. Tei Shi wonders aloud how much can one person or even one bond between two people take before it falls apart, as she asserts that, “If it pleases you to see me struggling, I will…If it pleases you to see me sorry, I’m not.”
Crawl Space traces the arc of major changes across every facet of Teicher’s life, and embodies the sound of an artist creating and commanding her own space. And while the process can be claustrophobic, Tei Shi proves that it can also be liberating, even exhilarating.
- Brendan Hilliard, Obviate Media
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