Whatever else can be said about Phoebe Bridgers, she’s pretty damned impressive as a collaborator. In the shooting-star ascendancy of her past few years, it seems Bridgers has eagerly responded in the affirmative to just about every cool opportunity that has come her way. Her real talent in these pitch-in endeavors is blending in to whatever the main artist needs without ever subsuming herself. Her vocals are always pitched just a little bit differently to suit the song, and yet the Bridgers passage always glimmers.
In certain circles, nothing short of delirious delight greeted the revelation a couple weeks back that Bridgers would make a featured appearance on SOS, SZA’s long awaited follow-up to the acclaimed debut Ctrl. I’m not in the center of any of those circles, but I absolutely hover around the edge of them, peaking in with curiosity and a desire for inclusion. Now that the album has arrived, the track in question, “Ghost in the Machine,” does not disappoint. It’s lithe and lovely, soulful and true. The performers’ voices mirror each other so elegantly that it sounds like harmony even when they’re not actually singing together. This is why some of the most gifted artists of the day keep asking Bridgers to come on over to the studio.