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Martina Topley-Bird, 'Wyman'

For nearly three decades, London-born singer-songwriter Martina Topley-Bird's voice has served as one of the most evocative instruments in contemporary music. From her soulful and chilling performances on Tricky's Maxinquaye and Pre-Millennium Tension to her string of solo albums throughout the 2000s, Topley-Bird brings tenderness and fire to every note she sings. Her latest album, Forever I Wait, was partially written during her time living in Baltimore, and "Wyman," inspired by the city's Wyman Park neighborhood, is one of the album's clear standouts.

The song finds Topley-Bird articulating her feelings as a European expat witnessing the bleakness of life in America. With a slow, head-nodding groove anchored by deep and menacing synths, Topley-Bird's voice cries out like a bright beam of light in the midst of a dark storm: "When my path is lost and the dream is gone," she sings "I am looking for a lie to fall back on." The entire affair is topped off by the simple but effective hook: "I find my way in the dark to Wyman Park."

Copyright 2021 XPN

John Morrison is a writer, DJ, and sample-flipper from Philadelphia. As a writer, his work has appeared in NPR Music, Bandcamp Daily, Jazz Tokyo, Grammy.com, and more. He is also the host of Culture Cypher Radio, a hip-hop radio show on NPR member station WXPN.