Leila Rhodes is a Pittsburgh-based producer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist who specializes in versatile, genre-hopping tunes made entirely in-house.
“Santa Ana Wins,” a track from Rhodes’ debut album Casanova Way, rides a slinky, slow-mo funk groove from the West Coast to the East, joined on its journey by a bluesy guitar line and chords that shimmer far away over the sonic horizon. The song’s production is almost psychedelic; Rhodes coats her vocals in a spine-tingling layer of warm fuzz and then turns the reverb up to 11. The thing sounds like it’s been recorded in an abandoned airplane hangar. “Santa Ana Wins” builds from a summertime reverie (“California grip on my soul/I don’t think I’ll ever let go”) into a full-on sermon during which Rhodes half-raps, half-commands the listener to “Respect your vessel” because “your body is your ship” and to not “let insecurity keep you from who you’re trying to be.” Rhodes’ booming voice, set against the song’s trippy, spaced-out musical backdrop, makes her sound like some wise alien being, raining empowerment down upon our heads from aboard a groovy spaceship. It’s the Erykah Badu/Tame Impala collab that never was (although I guess that could still happen).