The human mind is a curious and fascinating thing. It’s a labyrinth filled with thoughts and an endless stream of ideas. At times, it can seem difficult if not impossible to communicate these thoughts to others. However, that doesn’t seem to be an issue for singer Jillian Rose Banks, better known by her stage name Banks.
With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Banks often explores themes of relationships, love, and self-discovery. Her music is bare and raw as her lyrics are an open book to her mind. By her appearance, you wouldn’t expect her to be as honest as she is in her songs. Banks is usually very quiet and composed when giving interviews and her social media pages are run by her manager because she does not have much of an interest for it. While she tends to have more of a serious persona, she comes alive when performing her music. The Altar, the artist’s sophomore album, is an extensive look into Banks’ most private thoughts.
The Altar opens up with “Gemini Feed,” a song about one of Banks’ previous emotionally manipulative relationships. In it, she tells the story of how she deeply cared about a man who would always put her down and try to convince her that she needed him. Albeit genuinely loving him, she has grown strong and shows it by singing “And to think you would get me to the altar/Like I’d follow you around like a dog that needs water/But admit it, you just wanted me smaller/If you would’ve let me grow, you could’ve kept my love.”
“Judas” is a track dripping with heavy hip-hop influences. It features Banks’ signature disjointed coons as she unabashedly compares one of her ex’s to the Apostle Judas. Her vocals are dark and delicate as she recalls how her ex did her wrong. The song has a certain attitude to it as she points how well she is doing now without him.
Banks holds nothing back on this album. Unlike her first album Goddess, she comes in stronger and powerful. She no longer sounds like the girl lost in love, but rather an empowered woman who will no longer put up with nonsense. When she uses expletives in her songs, they’re not just there as random placeholders but rather a perfect representation of how she’s truly feeling. Although The Altar exemplifies Banks’ growth as a musical artist and person, nothing on this album really stands out to me. The whole album sounds a bit inconsistent. It is a mixture of very high energy songs oddly combined with soft ballad like melodies. While it is not my favorite album, I can respect Banks on her courage to be completely vulnerable to the public through her music.