Growing up, I would spend hours in Fye listening to albums by artists I discovered through seeing their music video on MTV or VH1 (back when they actually aired music videos). When I found an artist I liked, I bought the CD and took it home to engage in my own little listening party. As soon as I reached my bedroom, I’d pop it into what I thought was an amazing sound system, snag the lyrics sheet out, and listen. Sometimes I would repeat this experience over and over again if I really loved the album. Eventually, when I reached college, I learned that people did a variation of this together and called them listening parties! Whether you have it by yourself or with a few friends, Taking Time by Reservations is one album more than worthy of a listening party.
The first aspect of Reservations’ debut full-length album that caught my ear was the vocals. Singer/songwriter Jana Horn has a voice that stands out with its simple beauty, similar to Priscilla Ahn. Her voice has the sweet tonal qualities of the Civil Wars’ Joy Williams, but also maintains the raw, unadorned feel akin to The xx’s Romy Madley Croft. The combination of these two aspects makes Jana’s voice one that is impossible to tire of. I truly can listen to her over and over again.
Each song on Taking Time pairs Jana’s beautiful voice with Jason Baczynski’s drums and Paul Price’s guitar in a unique way. The trio’s songs not only provide different layerings of these instruments but also contain different amounts of heaviness. Some songs like “Planet” and “I’ve been trying not to feel it” provide a fuller, louder sound, while others such as “I don’t mind” and “To be honest” give out more chill vibes. “I can hear us” is a really great example of Reservations’ ability to begin a song at the more relaxed levels of “To be honest” and build beautifully to a heavier rock sound by its end. They do that wonderful trick often on the album.
The first single off the album, “Planet,” opens the album up with Jana’s unadorned voice, accompanied by piano and the up-front drums enters in. The electric guitar adds a layer to the instrumentation that fills out the sound. The song has a slightly melancholic quality, almost giving off a post-apocalyptic feel. This feel is particularly evident in the repetition of, “welcome to the planet/ it’s not the way I planned it, it’s not,” sounding as if this could be a song for the soundtrack of a very well-done zombie movie. I say well-done because the song maintains a high level of artistic quality that could only be tied to something of similar high quality. “Planet” is a really great opening to an awesome album. I can only assume that you are now ready to host your own listening party centered around it.–Krisann Janowitz
If you are searching for a collection of songs that will make you experience an array of emotions, look no further. Singer/Songwriter Amber Edgar’s latest EP Good Will Rise will make you feel, and often. The four tracks here speak larger volumes than many twelve-track albums do. What makes Amber Edgar’s music so impactful? Edgar’s brilliant, raw lyrics mesh with her unique instrumentation and gorgeous vocals to create an EP that will move even the most deadpan music appreciator.
The title track begins the collection on a hopeful note. Edgar’s crystal-clear mezzo-soprano voice shines alongside her main accompaniment–the acoustic guitar. The combination of her sweet yet soulful voice and the acoustic guitar creates a wonderfully unassuming sound, similar to much of Priscilla Ahn’s music. The sound, alongside the modestly hopeful lyrics, gains further flavor through a layer of horns played by one of her very talented musicians. Yet the horns do not take control of the sound; Edgar’s beautiful lyrics and voice still shine the brightest, only adding to the hope that “good will rise.”
The use of the Wurlitzer in “The Key” and “Danny Was So Young” adds a bit of a funky sound to the hauntingly beautiful songs. “The Key” contains some eerie background vocals towards the end that really leaves listeners with a slightly unsettling feeling, fitting for the EP.
“Danny Was So Young” provides a bit of discomfort mainly through the painfully vulnerable lyrics focused on friends that have committed suicide. The acoustic guitar makes perfect sense to be the lead instrument on such a delicate song. The level of maturity it takes to tackle such a dark topic in such a poetic way is simply astounding.
In the song, there certainly exists a feeling of melancholic mourning that all who have lost loved ones can relate to, yet lingering under it all is still hope that normalcy will return. The lyrics compare the pain one feels in missing friends to an anchor. What a brilliant way to imply that the pain does not disappear–it becomes a part of daily life alongside all the other emotions one feels. I can really not say enough about the beautifully poetic nature of “Danny Was So Young” and, really, all the tracks off Good Will Rise.
“Only In Dreams” highlights Edgar’s skills as a multi-talented instrumentalist, beautiful vocalist and amazing lyricist. With assists from other skilled musicians, “Only In Dreams” opens with a lovely banjo/cello combination. Other instruments, such as drums, slowly trickle into the arrangement. Edgar shows her impressive range by soulfully dipping low in the verses and shining at the high notes in the chorus. The lyrics tackle the topic of love through beautiful sailing and nautical imagery, with lyrics like, “Well I am just a little boat/When I see you I begin to float.” The overarching metaphor of “dreaming” really takes the track home, with the closing repetition of “Never wake me up” showing listeners that lyrics can also double as poems.
Amber Edgar’s latest EP Good Will Rise will blow you away with its unique instrumentation, beautiful vocals, and poetic lyrics, leaving you to press repeat over and over again. –Krisann Janowitz
Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.