As Ta-ku gears up for his first live tour of America, what could be more fitting than covering Estelle’s 2008 R&B classic American Boy? Featuring guest vocals from Wafia (who you might recognise from Japanese Wallpaper‘s Breathe In), this version translates to a male perspective, entitled American Girl, and is gorgeously stripped down.
Originally started as a joke, inspired by old Kobe Bryant highlights featuring the original song, Ta-ku said of the release “I really wanted to make a stripped back emotional version that would play on its really great melodic structure”. Along with most of the internet, we are in agreement that there is very little that is funny about Ta-ku’s American Girl. Resting on the original melody and vocal line, the song becomes fragile and haunting in his hands.
Wavering on the soulful, understated vocals and set to delicate instrumentation, light piano touches and cinematic strings hint at Estelle’s upbeat club classic – only now it has a far more tender feel. Echoing hand-claps keep time, and Wafia’s sweet lo-fi vocals are a thoughtful touch. There is a touch of dark pop around the brooding feel, but mostly the track is airy and ethereal.
As covers go, Ta-ku’s American Girl is definitely a success, and great spin on the original. Likely to melt a few hearts in this homage to the U.S ahead of his tour, it’s a fitting release.
American Girl is out now Future Classic.