Oh! My Blackbird is back with a new EP called Violet. It's really good.
For me, when I hear a new work by an artist I've followed, it's usually most rewarding when I can get a strong sense of continuity of what made me really like the artist previously along with some new touches to show they are evolving creatively. I feel that is happening on Violet. One of Oh! My Blackbird's greatest strengths is the excellent vocal harmonizing between Annie, Veronica, and Nick. The three tracks of this EP have that in spades. They also fuse elements of classical, folk, and indie pop with the cello, the acoustic textures, the rhythms, the vivid and melodic songwriting, and more in such a compelling way. It's boosted by the versatility of Zach on bass and keyboards and the production/assistance of Mama Coco's recording studio main man Oliver Ignatius. The new touches come primarily from expanding the band's typical palette. The addition of Jay McBride on electric guitar gives the opening track "It's Not That I Still Love You (Cause I Don't)" an extra punch. The final track, "Violet" becomes more hazy and dreamy with the sitar (or sitar-like effects).
Annie continues to demonstrate her prowess as a writer, deftly mixing beautiful sounds with powerful, nuanced, and sometimes biting words. Just look at the title of the first track – it's not that I still love you…'cause I don't. Or how the words in "Violet" begin with all these wishes for another person before hitting us with "I wish you weren't here anymore." You may get the songs stuck in your head before you even realize what they say, and when you do, you'll often be knocked out by their depth and clarity. Relationships still seem to be a major theme. While one can't always assume a song is autobiographical, Annie delivers and inhabits her lyrics in such a way that you think she is drawing on a lot of personal experience. I'm sure there is some element of real life here, but I like that there also is some extension into other perspectives. "Orlando" is like a short musical of the Virginia Woolf story of the same name. One can still draw rich personal connections to questions about notions of femininity and masculinity and how things change over time from this source material.
Altogether, it offers enough that fans of previous releases would be happy while still demonstrating growth as a band. Can't ask for much more than that.
The EP will officially be released tomorrow at a show at Pete's Candy Store. Oh! My Blackbird plays at 10:00. Physical copies should be available then and I'm sure their bandcamp page will be updated shortly after for digital sales. You should come to the show, buy the EP, or both!