Earlier this year, I caught a solid cover of Phoebe Bridgers’ “Kyoto” circulating my social media feed, home-recorded by Philly artist imani!…which, yes, that exclamation point is part of her name. Working with such strong source material, it’d be tough to make a bad impression, but this month imani! debuts her own songwriting with “Plant Song,” and shows that the excitement of that punctuation mark is absolutely justified.
The 17-year-old singer-songwriter released the track last Friday on all streaming services, and it’s a crunchy indie rock jam that reminds me a lot of Liz Phair and that dog. Ask imani!, though — which The Tisburys’ Tyler Asay did in an IG live interview — and she’ll tell you her favorites are more in the vicinity of Weezer, The Monkees, and MGMT, with Bridgers opening the gates to her for artists like Elliott Smith and Alex G, who she admires for their “innocent but profound lyrics” that paint vivid pictures.
Asay tells us he connected with imani! through bassist Dan DiFranco, her music teacher, who is also a regular at Main Street Music in Manayunk, where Asay works; in the IG Live interview, imani! talks of DiFranco encouraging her to try her hand at home recording software. DiFranco also played on the single, along with drummer Jason Gooch of 49 Burning Condors.
Listen to the song below, and check out imani!’s Bandcamp here — it also features the “Kyoto” cover as well as Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection.” You can also watch imani! and Asay’s IG live chat, where she talks about getting into music at age 14, teaching herself to play guitar, and the way “Plant Song”‘s themes of self-awareness and empathy for the world around you stem from a joke about vegetarians.