Review Summary: An immersive and mosaic EP that allows you to dive deeper and deeper with every listen.
It is so rare for an EP to sound as fully-formed as a full-length album. Normally, they serve as an introduction to a band, or a collection of songs that usually ends up acting as a temporary bridge between two albums in order to feed fan’s desires for new material. Rarer still is it to discover an EP that sounds as fully formed as a full-length album from a relatively unheard-of artist but A.A Williams’ eponymous debut EP doesn’t merely act as an introduction to her music. Despite the fact that this is her first release, Williams illustrates that her music is already so exquisitely constructed that this EP feels more like a demonstration of what more she has to offer, as opposed to an introduction of what she can do.
Interestingly, the sound of this album often contrasts the mood. “Terrible Friends” is an introverted song where A.A. Williams describes vulnerability and desperation through tender truths in her softly spoken lyrics, however, with such a minimalistic way of writing she creates a spacious atmosphere that allows her affectionate voice to coil around straining melodies and stretching guitars. Whilst the sound of this EP may appear minimalistic, which it certainly is from a certain point of view, diving deeper between the textures of these songs reveal that there are numerous subtle intricacies that create this larger, minimalistic façade.
“Control” and “Cold” both present mosaic effects where, if you were to listen to these songs causally, you would simply hear Williams’ sombre voice, complemented by piano in the former and swaying acoustics in the background. Far from a bad thing, but these songs are crafted so quietly that it challenges that audience to pay closer attention to the background details and not listen to it casually. Distorted gossamer strings hum and buzz during “Control” immediately after she quietly assures that she ‘will never lose control’ and also in the dying seconds of the song as if it serves as a distorted reminder the itching temptation to lose control is present in everyone, no matter how in control they are, constantly lurking hidden in the background. Meanwhile, gliding strings create a comfortable aura as Williams utters ‘safe and sound’ and continue to drift around freely behind the airy chorus during “Cold”. And it is at this point, when one looks closer and listens closer, do the individual brushstrokes that create the overall portrait materialise. Plus, the fact that there is so much depth to this EP-which is only around 20 minutes long- increases its replay value.
A.A. Williams has this masterful knack to extract heaps of emotion in a song by way of synchronising her voice and instrumentation in perfect harmony. Both elements continually remain the same volume, the same tempo and the strength in which it is delivered rises and falls accordingly. Held within this synchronisation is an incredibly emotive power. “Belong” is the textured sonic interpretation of a blinding ray of sunshine piercing a crack between dusty curtains aimed directly at your wearied eyes, scraping yourself off the top of an unmade bed and commencing the morning grind in a routinely spiritless fashion. She makes the song sound so tired, but not sleepy- tired in a way where you feel shrunken beneath the endless struggle of life. The fact that an artist’s first release evokes this level of professionalism is a testament to the amount potential she has when it eventually comes to releasing a full-length album.