When I listen to Troi Irons, I think about Lenny Kravitz and Jimi Hendrix. It’s not her sound — though there are some similarities there — as much as the way rockstar riffs seem to spill directly out of her. A cursory glance at her dreads, and a brief introduction to her powerhouse voice might have the uninitiated trying to label Troi as R&B or blues, but there is an undercurrent of guitar and rebellion here that is absolutely undeniable.
It’s that backbone of rock that helps make her Turbulence EP one of the most intriguing and diverse EPs I’ve heard this year, and it’s also easy to see why an artist like Lupe Fiasco, who has an appreciation for eclecticism in music, would tap her for two features on his Tetsuo And Youth EP (under the name Troi).
According to an old interview from last year, her full name is Troi Alexandria Irons, and she was named after both the city of Troy and the man who tried and failed to conquer it, Alexandra The Great. With that kind of mythology infused in her from an early age, it’s no surprise that Turbulence reaches for sky-scraping heights, often fusing pop, rock, and stringent AutoTuned vocals (that many compare to Imogen Heap), like on the seething “Worst Habit,” which is one of the standouts here.
“Peculiar,” one of the singles, thrums through a spoken-word bridge that twists toward Eastern strings and erupts into full-on Alanis Morissette angst on the chorus. Actually, Alanis is another great touchstone here, given the way Troi is able to flip from a crystalline head voice into a deep-throated roar at the drop of a dime.
My favorite track on the EP, though, is the final one. It’s a song called “Today” that openly grapples with feelings of suicide and other more insidious manifestations of depression. Irons imbues the song with plenty of darkness, but there’s a silver lining of hope here: “Tomorrow I might say I’m all right,” she sings. If that’s enough for her to keep singing, it’s enough for me to keep listening, too. Stream the full EP below and look for much more coming from Irons soon.
Troi’s Turbulence EP is out now via Def Jam. Get it here.