Sad indie folk sure is all the rage these days. From pop sensation Taylor Swift to new kid on the block Phoebe Bridgers, there’s something to be said about the return of stripped-down, sentimental songwriting. Now I can’t say I know for sure what that is, but I do know it involves some great talent and a deep look into the artists’ truest feelings. Can an EP of utmost tranquility from UK trio in earnest subdue the heart of a musical escapist? Let’s find out.
As to be expected, the opening track, as well as almost every other track, starts off with some gently-picked acoustic guitar, which I must say is quite soothing. Co-founder and singer/songwriter Thomas Eatherton pens the more cathartic, emotional songs in a way that reminds me very much of the slower emo ballads of the 2000s. This is in contrast to Sarah Holburn’s pop sensibility and extended vocal range, which occupies the other half of the songs on this EP. The duo are also joined by a third member, multi-instrumentalist Toby Shaer, whose great sense of accompaniment and composition help solidify the group’s sound as accessible indie pop.
By the fifth song, “in between,” I could very much appreciate the group’s songwriting ability, but I was left wishing for just a bit more “spice.” Slow-paced ballads are clearly a trademark of the genre, and I would even say they are essential to any pop group’s catalogue, but if you plan on releasing six songs as a package to showcase your artistry, I can’t help but hope to hear a certain range of diversity and creativity in song structures or harmony. Even the piano, synthesizers or bass could have been given a bit more attention for at least one song, just to help shake things up. Half Moon Run comes to mind in that respect.
Without a doubt, in earnest have all the qualities to solidify their status as a professional singer-songwriter act. The instrumentation is on par with their emo-folk peers, as well as their gloomy, understated aesthetic. Although the EP wasn’t risky enough for my tastes, I’m eager to hear just how the trio are going to change the game on a more expansive release.
Written by Davide Spinato
*Edited by Chris Aitkens