Review Summary: Candid
The guitar that carries this EP is quiet and solivagant, but it is enough. Sometimes, when it feels like it might buckle under the gravitas -- the sheer and ugly weight -- of the words it holds up, it slows down just a second, catching its breath before hoisting the cross back on its shoulders. And, Jesus Christ, I love it. I love how the music here is as candid as the portrait adorning the album cover, I love how her voice is as intrinsic to her message as the words, and I love how much significance is bestowed upon the empty space. The record works because it places these simple ideas carefully inside a glass box; after all, these ideas are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves.
Boys Will Be Boys
starts like it's backed into a corner. As long as there are people out there “…deaf to the word ‘no’”
, there’ll be a burning necessity for songs like this. It’s touched and shaped and bent into a strikingly real piece of music by an experience that should never have happened. But it ends up switching positions with that experience; by haranguing “you” -- the execrable impetus -- Donnelly bridges the divide between the listener (who is, by and large, safe from the pain and the complicity) and the victim. Technically, it’s a small shift in perspective, but I think it transforms these stories into something more: lessons, calls to action, mirrors.
And of course Boys Will Be Boys
is followed by Mean To Me
-- winner of most endearing Yo Mamma joke and sweetest vibrato ever. But the tenderness of Mean...
doesn’t undermine what comes before it; it coyly delivers its central lyric as though it’s comic relief, like it’s an anaesthetic intended for comfort and reassurance. The dynamic here is a beautiful, carefully considered one. It’s leads me to believe that Stella is every single one of her friends’ favourite singer-songwriter, with the only bias being what is engendered by the songs themselves. I said these ideas are capable of speaking for themselves, which is true -- to an extent -- but it’s the voice communicating them that makes this EP worth returning to. It’s a voice both fragile and commanding, smart enough to know when it’s appropriate to drop a ‘fuck’ and stunning enough to make these experiences seem universal even when they are, realistically, impossible to relate to. It’s a lovely thing to hold onto, even when it’s threatening to break down strictly because of something you