There are entirely too many frustrations in the world, and not enough cocoon-emerging butterflies. Instead of the latest atrocious reality show spin-off show about ‘barely celebrities’ losing weight or manufactured singing competitions where the focus is on how many guest stars we could cram in before the actual competition, we should coat our television with nature documentaries. Maybe some footage of emerging butterflies.
The world is full of frustrations, but it is also full of clichés. This is why I stay far away from the term ‘inspiration,’ because it hardly makes sense with context. Without context, we’re left confused. Inspirational of what, exactly?
Pop navigator and singer Erica Bronwyn is inspirational in the same way that nature is inspirational. It just makes you feel good. It is very different than that ‘feel good’ humorous fuzzy feeling you get from a mediocre romantic comedy. Bronwyn actually enchants with her music.
A lot of that has to do with her voice. It’s soaring without being dramatic, and it has just enough texture to make it seem not totally fabricated in a recording room. There is something so personal but fleeting in her voice. As if the next note is just trying to run away from her and she is caught whimsically chasing it down the flowery path of whatever comes next. This feeling obviously comes forward from the music itself. Dramatic undertones cascade valiantly, as most brilliantly expressed in lead track ‘Butterfly’ off her debut, Metamorphosis. ‘Another Day’ has this rhythmic flair that changes the pace a bit. It sounds sparking and sunny. I am about to make the most obvious comparison that can be widely understood. She is similar to Adele except a better songwriter (it is hard to compete with Adele’s production). She sings less about broken relationships, and more about the fantastical nature of life. Even her broken love songs sound positive, unlike Adele, who just employs what I consider to be glorified whining.
The album touches on that big percussion sound we see cropping up a lot in the modern R&B movement. ‘Try’ holds nothing back in this sweeping soundscape of percussive backbeats and soothing keyboard melodies. ‘Look of Goodbye’ employs nearly the identical drum pattern with a few horn type sounds thrown in for good measure.
The song structuring is not unique, nor is her singing voice. But if someone was knocked for doing everything perfectly well without breaking the envelope or falling back, it certainly shouldn’t be Erica Bronwyn fresh off her debut album. We heard it before. We felt it before. But never so well done and perfectly executed in just about every area- from theme to style to production.
The single ‘Butterfly’ plays right off the title of the album, and lyrics about flying and breaking out of a cocoon are anything but subtle. But who needs subtle? Bronwyn has accomplished what Lana Del Rey tried to do on Born to Die, and what Liz Phair failed to do almost a decade ago. She plays up organic and dramatic pop with exciting fervor, finding a cozy balance between overtly sentimental and totally engaging.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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