Heart on a Wire: An Interview with Americana Chanteuse Taylor Whitaker

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I sat down with smoky-voiced Americana artist Taylor Whitaker to discuss her debut EP, Heart on a Wire, her inspirations, and how she landed in Nashville. Heart on a Wire is an earnest, hopeful collection of songs that marries Whitaker’s gentle, poetic lyrics with a pop-influenced folk sound. Whitaker’s powerful, rich voice anchors the album in emotional honesty, and her skill with melody is on full display in every song. In person, she’s alternately eloquent and self-deprecatingly hilarious. Take a listen as you get to know Taylor below!

You just released Heart on a Wire in November of last year—was that your first EP?

Yes, it was a labor of love. I’ve had the songs for probably three or four years, and I’ve never had the opportunity to record, so we actually moved to Nashville to record this and start doing music.

From Wisconsin [where she’s from]?

From Washington, DC. My husband was in the army, and he was stationed at Walter Reed Medical Center, and after I graduated I flew out to live with him. That was after we eloped, and didn’t tell anybody. So we eloped, I finished, I flew out there! It was a very big secret, only my roommate knew in college, pretty much.

So you’ve been married a long time now!

Yeah, almost five years. It’s going good!

So what was the inspiration for the songs on the album?

Most of them are about my relationship. There was about two years where we only saw each other for maybe three months, so a lot of them songs are—one of them is “800 Miles,” which is the distance from Wisconsin to DC, driving. And the other one is called, “Frost of Spring.” It’s just a love letter back and forth, asking how you are, are the people nice, you know, like a conversation. It’s been nice to be done with it, just because I feel like I’ve wanted to have these songs recorded for so long, and now I can move on. Like the baby’s done, I can move on and grow in my writing.

I hear several different stylistic elements in your music—how would you describe your style?

I guess to blanket it, it would be Americana folk. But some of them have an alternative edge to them. But I think there’s a lot of—a lot of them are really simple, the melodies and the lyrics, and then the instrumentals are what builds it out. So there’s a lot of 60s folk in my mind when I’m writing it, but also with “Heart on a Wire,” it’s more 40s-50s to me, like watching an old movie or something like that.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was in college. UW Milwaukee has this really great guitar program, it’s fingerstyle, classical, and jazz. So there are guitar players that come from around the world to study there, and I had all these friends that were playing guitar. And so, you know, I knew chords, but then I ended up taking a fingerstyle class, and there’s a picking pattern, PIMA, and I wrote a song to learn the pattern. And that’s when I kinda started writing. We did this show called “Shenanigans” for our opera theater class, and it was really just like a talent show at the college level [laughs]. And so I ended up playing that song, and got really good feedback from it, and just wanted to keep writing.

Have you always known that music was the thing you wanted to do?

Yes. Even my parents knew. I was the kid at the end of a Disney movie that would go sing and dance at the screen after it was over, and they would let me! And I would tell stories to everybody, I would sing all the time, and to be honest I never really did it in school—I went to a Lutheran school and they didn’t really have a music program. And I was getting bullied, and I asked my mom to take me out, probably in like 7th grade. I transferred to a public school, and they had a music program, it alternated music/gym. And the music teacher there, Barry Craig, he’s the one who started it all [laughs]. So he was the one who started giving me arias to sing and putting me in state competitions and he got me voice lessons and it just kinda grew from there. And he was always very supportive, and believed in me. And even my parents, they owned properties, so when they couldn’t afford voice lessons, they would do services for my voice teacher, like change out her windows so that I could have lessons. So I feel like everybody really believed in it. And I just, you know, I love singing, so I went along with it. You know, looking back, I was not as grateful as I should have been. [laughs] I am now!

Since my blog is focused on women, I’m curious what does it mean to you to be a woman in this industry? Are there certain challenges you’ve faced?

Okay, so I’ve had a long life of being bullied, called names, put down. And I think that in college, really after I met my husband is when I started to get self-confidence. So now I’m like, I don’t care what you say to me, I’m a person and I’m strong. I try to keep myself surrounded by really positive musicians that believe in what I’m writing and what I’m doing, which is why I always send them music before I’m say, let’s write together. You know, I want to make sure that everybody feels strongly about what we’re creating. But I love seeing other women perform in Nashville. It can be very male-dominated. Which is fine! But we [women] have such a spectrum of emotion, you know, we go through so many things that a man can’t experience, and we have so much to say. And so it’s nice to be able to support that for each other.

If there’s a message that you want people to get from your music, what do think that might be?

Well, with “Under Fire,” I get asked if it’s a political song, and it’s not. It was a single release, and it really was written at a time when I’d moved here to pursue this dream and I just felt like I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I was good enough, I didn’t know if people were interested, I wasn’t having a good time with trying to find a job, and it was written to say, keep your head up. So even though some of my songs can seem very sad, I feel like there’s always a silver lining, you know, you just gotta stay positive. A lot of the reason why I write is that it’s therapy to get it out of me and into a song, so that I can continue to live my best life. And hopefully if somebody else hears it, it helps them through what they’re going through.

Lightning round! Peanut butter—creamy or chunky?

Creamy.

Wine—white or red?

White, but I’m not big wine drinker.

What do you like instead?

Whiskey. Whiskey and Wisconsin beers.

Vinyl or CD or cassette?

Vinyl. I have a great collection, but my favorite is a Valerie June signed copy of her first release.

Favorite animal?

I’m sorry to my dogs, I mean, they’re my favorite animals, but I would say the elephant.

Ooh! Mine’s the hippo, ours could be friends! Favorite childhood TV show?

Rocko’s Modern Life. Now watching it, like I can’t watch it now, it’s so annoying and I feel bad for my parents, but I loved that show.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I have this conversation with my husband every now and then. I’d say invisibility. I’d love to just people watch and move around and have nobody know. I don’t know if I’d want to read other people’s minds. I’m a really honest person, and I’d have to call them out (laughs). Maybe being able to touch something and turn it into something else, that’d be a cool superpower.

[her phone rings] Yeah, that’s the Downton Abbey theme song. [laughs]

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Soundcloud

Ever-Evolving: An Interview with Nashville’s Mary Jennings

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Mary Jennings is an artist based in Nashville whose music seamlessly blends electronica, folk, and singer-songwriter elements to create her own unique voice. She draws on her own life experiences and weaves them into deeply poetic images, pulling listeners into her lush, at times dark yet ineffably hopeful world. Her latest album, Metamorphosis, chronicles a time of personal and professional change in her life, and she illustrates this with grand images like tectonic plates and post-apocalyptic scenes and with her arrestingly evocative and nuanced vocal delivery. She even released a remix album to accompany this one, Metamorphose, to demonstrate that even her music is ever-changing. I had the opportunity to ask Mary about her music, her life, and her message, and she is absolutely one of the most authentic and sweet artists I’ve ever met, with an evident wisdom and insight beyond her years. Check out her responses below, and take a listen to her music while you read!

Stream her latest full-length album, Metamorphosis, here: http://www.maryjennings.com/music/

Stream her remix album, Metamorphose, here: https://open.spotify.com/album/0RnaQepGHDgSerXrvjYfkG

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud | Spotify

Metamorphosis, your latest album, was released in 2015—what was the inspiration for the album?

So, the last album I put out before that, I put out a live album in 2012, and the last full album I put out was Collapse, Collide (2011). I had to put all this pressure on myself to tour, after those records, and kind of got a little bit burnt out, and I wasn’t writing anymore. And then, I gradually started writing again—I guess out of that bunch, I think “Home” was the first one I wrote. And it was during Hurricane Sandy, actually. I was in New York in my apartment during Hurricane Sandy, and I’d just started watching The Walking Dead, and the whole idea of apocalypse and things like that, that’s what inspired that song. Like, what is home? It’s not a thing, it’s not a place, it’s not even people because people could become zombies, but it’s more like your ability to survive, and have your wits about you. So that was kinda what started it. And then, I gradually started writing some other songs, and all during this time, I moved to Nashville, I got married—everything was changing in life. In a good way! But it was weird, you know, I’m now in my thirties, not in my twenties, all these things were just different. And so, all the songs that I was writing somewhat had to do with change, whether it was change in relationships, or change in planetary stuff, change in growing up, everything just had this undertone of change.

The production of your album is really fascinating, and I’m wondering how your process goes with that. Do you think about the eventual production of it when you write, or is it more of a collaborative effort to get there?

I think it’s a little bit of both. So I met Nathan Rosenberg, my producer, through my guitar player who was playing for me at the time, and Nathan produced Poe, who was brilliant. I listened to her in high school, and she had kind of this trip-hop, industrial vibe to her. So I found out that he worked on that, I was like, “This could be my dude!” And I went in, and we just talked a lot, and I liked the way he talked to me through my music. Then we started working on “Home,” and he just got it. We started adding the electronic elements, and then we sent it to one of my best friends, Ian O’Neil, who is a drummer and he was living in Nashville when I was in New York. He went into his studio, and kicked booty on drums and sent it back to us. It was a lot of back-and-forths, and that elevated it and changed it. So the process with this record was, I would say, different than any other experience I’ve had. Sometimes songs had a very direct path—but others, like “Love You Best,” it changed tempo and keys probably ten times—we couldn’t find the vibe. And “One Brick” was that I had written that I was kind of like, “I don’t think anybody’s gonna think it’s any good.” And Nathan was like, “Oh my god, that’s my favorite one!” I just had no concept of what it could be until he got a hold of it.

I love when that happens, when someone else shows you what your song could be!

He totally showed me what it could be! And “This Means War” was probably the biggest fight, because we knew we needed one more, the sixth one, and he said, “Play me through some of the stuff that you’ve got.” And I was like playing through some songs that I had and he was like, “No, that’s not it, mm-mm, that’s not it. Do you have anything that’s not finished?” And it was making me really mad (laughs) so I was like, “Ok, fine!” So I had literally only lyrics to this song that I had started writing in the car when I was driving up with my bassist friend. And [Nathan] was like, “Well, sing it for me,” and I begrudgingly sang the lyrics to it and he said, “That’s the one.” And it was “This Means War.” And it’s one of my favorites now, and I just, I didn’t have the visual for it.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

Well I have my artist influences and my people influences. Musical—I mean it’s so cliché, but I can’t help it, she’s a genius—Tori Amos is one for me. I listened to Tori Amos for the first time in eighth grade Latin class. My friend Amy Schwarzbaum had Boys for Pele, and she was like “Mary, you need to listen to this.” And I listened to it, and it was like my eyes were opened. I was like, “Wait music like this exists, oh my God!” But you know, I very much grew up in that Lilith Fair era, so Fiona Apple, Sarah McLachlan, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, all of that was in my wheelhouse. I love Bjork—something that I love so much about Bjork is, you wanna talk about somebody who just says what she wants unabashedly—love it! She wears a swan dress, cool! So you know, those kinds of powerful women really inspire me. I also used to listen to Celtic music all the time—I don’t know if you remember the days of the store called The Nature Company? It was a store in the mall that sold wind chimes and celestial shit. But they also had CD’s, and you could listen, and it was like all this meditative and Celtic stuff. I loved that, I couldn’t get enough of that. It was like, that and the electronica, like Orbital and stuff, I loved.

But then just in terms of life influences, my grandma was a piano player, so she always had me at the piano playing whatever I wanted to play. She always listened if I had something new—always! And then my granddad’s an amazing singer, so he taught me harmonies when we would ride in the car. We would sing songs, and it started out with me singing the melody and him singing the harmony and he would challenge me to flip it. So I learned how to sing and do harmonies from him.

And where are you from?

I am originally from here. I was born in Nashville Tennessee, but I only lived here until I was in first grade. I started second grade in Gainesville, Georgia. My parents got divorced and I moved to Gainesville, Georgia with my mom, so I would say that’s more where I grew up. My dad’s always lived here, so I would always come back and forth. And then went to college in South Carolina, and then moved back to Nashville afterward, after my mom passed away.

How old were you when your mom passed away?

I was eighteen. She—I’m an only child, and my mom was my best friend, I mean—oh man, talk about a weird person! She walked to the beat of her own drummer, she was awesome, and super inspiring. But she had an accident. I was in college my freshman year, and she fell off of a ladder and suffered massive head injuries, so uh… yeah, life went upside down after that. I knew that after I finished college, I wanted to be still close to family, so I moved back here to be closer to Dad and, you know, try to do the music thing.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in the music industry? Are there any particular challenges you’ve faced? How do you perceive your role in the industry?

I mean, it may sound anti-feminist, and I don’t mean it to, but I just wanna be seen as a person in the music industry. I don’t need to be seen as a woman—I’m no different than any guy out there. I think it is a very male-driven industry, which, you know, it just is what it is. I don’t love it, and I wish that it was more female-driven. But I don’t want, within music, I don’t want to be told what I can or can’t sing, what I can or can’t wear, what I can or can’t do, based on the fact that I’m a female. If I want to go out and dress in the sluttiest clothes, that’s my prerogative. Or if I want to dress like a boy, that’s my prerogative. I’m tired of the gender split, like I’m just a person. I don’t feel extremely different than any of the rest of you. We all suffer from some of the same issues, and go through the same things, and have similar highs and lows.

But you know, I stick to what I’m doing, and stick to my own personal path, cause this is nobody else’s path but my own, and if anybody makes any sexist remarks, I brush it off and I say, “Ooh yeah, I’m not gonna deal with that person anymore, I’m out.” I don’t have the time or patience for that, and that person’s mind is probably not going to be changed with anything I can say, so see ya! I don’t know if that’s very women-empowering.

It totally is!

But I think the most empowering part of being a woman is not being seen as a woman, but being seen as a person.

And what’s cool too, is I think when you have that perspective, when you want to be treated like an equal, I think you tend to surround yourself with people who will do that. And you seem to have found collaborators that really appreciate what you do and there’s a give and take, a back and forth…

And what’s so interesting too is that it’s accidental, because most of them in the industry have been men, like my producers are all guys. Not that I seek them out, that’s who understood it the best. My musicians that play drums, or guitar, or bass, or cello, are all men, and they have had absolutely no problem with me saying, “This is what I want.” They see me as a person, as an artist, not as this chick over here (laughs). No, they’ve had no issues with me, there never were power struggles in that way.

If you had one message that you hope listeners receive from your music, what would that be?

You know, my music has always been really selfish. And it is my therapy, it is my way of getting out my thoughts, my feelings, what I’ve been through—it’s really for me, and if anybody else can pick up on it, that’s awesome! So I don’t expect anybody to take any particular message from it, but if it helps you at all, my job is done. I am even hesitant sometimes to say what the songs are about, because that song might be different for you than it is for me, and that’s ok. I want you to take from it what you want. I have a couple of songs that I’ve put out there where people have been coming to me crying afterwards and saying, “Thank you for this, you spoke words that I haven’t been able to, put words to feelings that I haven’t been able to…” Oh my God, I could quit tomorrow! Nothing means more to me than that. I did for myself [laughs], and I’m glad that you could pick up on it as well.

If anything, my personal message is that people just need to be whoever they wanna be, and not be ashamed of it, and not hide it. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, like just do it! Dress how you wanna dress, speak your mind if you want to, but don’t feel like you have to.

Lightning Round! Peanut butter, smooth or chunky?

Smooth! I used to think of chunky peanut butter like it had bugs in it, and I’ve never like in my brain been able to get out of that [laughs], so I have to have creamy peanut butter all the way.

Chocolate—milk or dark?

Depends on the day, but more often than not, milk. I love the sweeter kind—the kind that’s worse for you.

Vinyl or CD or cassette?

Ooh God that’s so tough! I would probably have to say the CD, because I grew up in the CD age, and you could put them in your car with you! If you could put a vinyl in your car, then okay maybe, but I still go through my CD’s and put them in my car. So, I would say CD’s—definitely not cassettes! I remember the days of having to fast forward and rewind to get to the right spot. But with vinyl, there’s nothing better than putting it on and listening to it start to finish. They’re just for different experiences, but on the whole, I’d say CD’s.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

There are so many! Um, the power to make somebody feel better in an instant. So if somebody was crying or upset, then I could just be like, “Nope it’s gonna be okay!” Not that hurting isn’t healthy and healing—and this is also, again, really selfish, cause when my baby cries, I wanna be like “POOF!” No more tears! Happy baby! (laughs)

I was just thinking that’s such an unselfish thing to wish! I’d be like, I wanna fly, or walk through walls! Last one—if you could have lunch with any person, living or not, who would it be—

My mom. Easy. My mom. I miss her so much, and I would probably give almost everything away to have five minutes with her again. I don’t know what all I would say, I’d probably just—I probably wouldn’t say anything, I’d probably just wanna hug her and cry for a while. So, that’s easy.

Stream Mary’s latest full-length album, Metamorphosis, here: http://www.maryjennings.com/music/

Stream her remix album, Metamorphose, here: https://open.spotify.com/album/0RnaQepGHDgSerXrvjYfkG

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud | Spotify

Amityville Records: A DIY Haven for Nashville Artists

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A record label can be a controversial tool for artists—some hail it as the ultimate platform through which to break an artist to a large audience, while some are wary of exploitation of artists and the homogenization of their sound. At Amityville Records, founders Scarer and Raygun have made it their pledge to support DIY artists who need label services without signing their lives away. Raygun, who provides the image and video expertise for Amityville, describes the label as “a positive and affordable place for people to practice their art in Nashville,” and the music-tech ninja half, Scarer, affirms their commitment to supporting independent artists in every way they can.

I attended the Amityville launch on the same day as the women’s march, a day about celebrating diversity, standing up for those without a voice, and being heard. I was inspired to see those messages carrying through to the show that night. All proceeds from the door and the Amityville merch sold went to Planned Parenthood, and several of the acts spoke about the events of the day, the need for artists to speak for those who can’t, and (my favorite topic) the power of women supporting each other’s work. The night began with Ladyshark, Scarer’s two-person punk project that was sometimes surf-y, sometimes proggy, but all times imbued with a raw, riot grrrl spirit. Scarer’s voice is clearly powerful, despite fighting a cold that night. Ian Taylor followed them, with just an acoustic guitar backing up his frank and rambling alt-folk songs, a very Bright Eyes sound. His song about Leonard Cohen’s death was a standout, as was his cover of “Brand New Key (the Rollerskates Song).” Lauren Strange and the Pretty Killers delivered a great set of their signature pop-grunge rock sound. Lauren commanded the stage with her standout voice, catchy songwriting, and I gotta say, an amazing orange dress. Last of the night was Sean Stannard, a hip-hop artist with an impressive flow and ability to engage the audience.

If you’re curious about Amityville and their services, you can find them at their website or their Facebook, and be sure to check out all of the artists above!

New Single Alert: Magana’s “Pages” Accompanies Solo Tour

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I loved Magana’s debut EP Golden Tongue when I reviewed it a few months ago, and now she’s back at it with the gorgeous single “Pages,” available for free/pay-what-you-can at Bandcamp. Magana’s trademark dreamy arrangements and arresting, evocative voice are on display here, but the song is more driving and rock-influenced than her work on the EP. Plus, the lyrics tell the story of wanting to keep your story to yourself, which is a delicious irony and a hauntingly relatable truth . The single accompanies her announcement of a solo tour through New York and California, so be sure to check her out live if you’re in one of those areas. And listen to her single below!

Listen on Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Spotify / Youtube

For more info on Magana and her upcoming tour:

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Songkick

BRIGHTON: The Shondes’ Brand of Feminist Pop-Punk Has an Optimistic Edge

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I love when I find a band that simultaneously rocks and makes me smile. Brooklyn’s The Shondes bring a unique outlook to their music—a feminist, Jewish punk band with catchy melodies, soaring violin, epic lyrics and earnest hopefulness. Their lead single, “Everything Good,” from their most recent album, Brighton, exemplifies this style. The lyrics are sweet and optimistic, supported by the romantic violin, but the energetic drums, fuzzy guitar, and lead singer Louisa Solomon’s powerful vocals give the song a punk edge.

The entire album is filled with incredibly tuneful melodies, a particular strength of the band’s songwriting, and the energy is overall a little 80s without the cheesy synths, reminiscent of Blondie, the Pretenders, and even anthem rock like Bruce Springsteen. Solomon’s voice in particular reminds me of Chrissie Hynde, with its ability to somehow be passionate and cool at the same time. And Elijah Oberman’s violin touches are always thoughtful and always strong—I especially love the pizzicato in “Wrong Kind,” a sing-along pop-punk anthem.

Other standouts on the album include “True North,” featuring a nod to their Jewish influences with the lyric “next year in Jerusalem” and an epic breakdown at the end; “Unstill Ones,” which is impossible not to sing along to between the background “oohs” and the “fuck that noise” refrain; and “Nightwatch,” perhaps their most adventurous offering. The guitar is gorgeous, the lyrics sweet and earnest, and the layering of ambient wails, violin, and sparse drums is tasteful and satisfyingly builds to the end. There is much to love about The Shondes and Brighton, from their inclusive and celebratory message to their catchy punk style—but ultimately, they simply make me happy and I like them. To me, that’s the joy of reviewing and discovering new music, and I’m thrilled to have found them.

SOUND: Catchy, energetic punk rock, with a little anthem rock thrown in; similar to Joan Jett, Blondie, The Pretenders, The Bangles, Bruce Springsteen

LISTEN TO: “Everything Good,” “Unstill Ones,” “Nightwatch”

Buy the album on Bandcamp

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Watch their video for “Everything Good:”

SONGS NOT SILENCE: Bringing Female Musicians Together for a Cause

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Last Wednesday I attended the last Songs Not Silence event of the year, a benefit series that has been going strong since April once a month at The 5 Spot. The series features all female or female-fronted acts and always centers on raising money for a cause. This month’s proceeds will go towards the Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline Oppostion, and all the artists, including the event’s founder Joanna Barbera, spoke very passionately about the need for our continued support for the Sioux tribe—even though they’ve had a recent victory, the fight is not over!

Barbera says the Song Not Silence series began as a way to bring awareness to the work of Thistle Farms and “real stories and experiences from the mouths of the women themselves.” For those who don’t know, Thistle Farms is an incredible organization that provides housing and employment for women recovering from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. The women produce a bath and body product line as well as artisan goods. “So each month, the ladies from Thistle Farms would set up a table and sell their products. About mid-evening, one would come up to the stage and tell their personal story, their history of drugs and sex trafficking and how Thistle Farms has changed their life.”

Last month was the first month Barbera branched out to other organizations, with November’s show featuring The Oasis Center, a local non-profit that provides programs for at-risk youth and shelter for homeless teens. She followed that expansion with this month’s Standing Rock benefit: “this month was special,” she says, “because I am very passionate about the happenings at Standing Rock.”

The all-female lineup was certainly formidable on Wednesday, with Lauren Farrah offering an intimate solo acoustic set as an “icebreaker.” Megan Palmer was a standout, as was her gorgeous song, “Stetson,” and the moving story that accompanied it—Palmer had breast cancer earlier this year, and the song centers on losing her hair and finding just the right Stetson to wear (and with it, her confidence and beauty). Becca Mancari’s full band set was lively and polished, and Joanna Barbera ended the night backed by two violinist/singers for some of the most inventive music of the evening.

I asked Barbera about the importance of having these female-centered benefits, and she responded that to her, it’s about women standing up for other women and supporting each other. “Society and mainstream media pits women against each other all too often. We compare and criticize ourselves and one another physically, mentally, socially, etc. I want to see more women working together—inspiring each other and building one another up. That was my intention: to bring us together and encourage each other to be our fullest, badass-est selves.”

Songs Not Silence returns to The 5 Spot in February—be sure to check it out, and we’ll see you there!

For more info on each of the featured musicians:

Lauren Farrah: Facebook

Megan Palmer: Facebook    Spotify

Becca Mancari: Facebook    Spotify

Joanna Barbera: Facebook    Spotify

GOLDEN TONGUE: Magana’s Debut EP is an Intimate, Passionate Thrill That Leaves Us Wanting More

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Brooklyn artist Magana’s debut EP, Golden Tongue, will be released on Oct. 28, and it’s a tantalizing taste of what this compelling artist has in store for us in the future. Her indie rock/pop style is similar to other eclectic singer-songwriters like St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, and Angel Olsen, with a bit of 90s alt-girl like PJ Harvey and Mazzy Star thrown in for good measure. The four-song EP kicks off with “Get It Right,” where she blends poetic lyrics with bluntly honest directives like “Get it right if you’re gonna, gonna waste my time, “ and “make up your damn mind.” The harmony is subtly surprising, and her voice is arresting from the first note. This is one of two singles you can listen to prior to the album’s release on Oct 28th, so click here to check it out!

The other single available to listen to now by clicking here is “Inches Apart,” an intimate song which builds beautifully from simple, clean electric guitar and Magana’s voice to a sparse yet lush synth soundscape. This song and the next, “The World Doesn’t Know,” demonstrate Magana’s remarkable ability to craft a musical journey that truly moves the listener through the song to a different place than where they started. The album closes with my personal favorite, “Golden Tongue,” featuring Magana’s sweet yet raucous vocal performance, the most complex and compelling drum groove of the album, and a rich, synth-y breakdown at the end with flashes of Radiohead circa OK Computer. On top of all that, it delivers a gut-punch of a final line in the chorus, “And you’ll never even know / that you’re lonely until you’re old.”

Overall, Golden Tongue is a satisfying glimpse into this Magana’s world and her potential for the future. We hear her evocative vocals, feel the emotion in her lyrics, and sense the intimacy and power in her instrumentation. If I had one criticism, it would be that this album is too short—as each song ended, I felt myself wishing for more, and indeed, with most of the songs clocking in around 3 minutes or under and the EP itself only being four songs, it’s on the short side. However, this may actually be the smartest move she’s made on the entire album, because I truly can’t wait to hear what she does next. For her first effort, Magana accomplishes what any EP should do—put her sound in our heads and leave us wanting more more more.

SOUND: Dreamy, dramatic indie rock/pop in the vein of St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, and Daughter

LISTEN TO: The whole thing—it’s only four songs! But especially “Golden Tongue” and “Get It Right”

Preorder Golden Tongue here: https://maganarama.bandcamp.com/album/golden-tongue-ep

Links to all of her social are below, and stay tuned for her album release on October 28th!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Preview two tracks from the album here:

Get It Right: Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Spotify

 

 

Inches Apart: Bandcamp / Soundcloud / YouTube