Caroline Ferrante SKY EP Review: On the Cusp

Carolina Ferrante’s latest EP release, SKY, finds the emergent indie vocal-powerhouse trying on a few different styles for an experimental effort in which individual performances are more impactful than the EP as a whole. The placement of the four songs on this EP feels a slight bit contrived, with the odd-numbered tracks playing host to upbeat, radio-rock efforts, and the even tracks being more bluesy sounding, atmospheric affairs. But this isn’t entirely to the EP’s detriment, however, as the alternating styles serve to succinctly frame Ferrante’s dynamic abilities as a songwriter and vocalist.

The opening track begins with a happy-sounding chord progression on a ukulele, followed by some whistling and Americana-tinged vocals, before giving way to a chorus of major-sounding guitar chords, and sing-along friendly “oh-oooh’s.”

But rather than evoking genuine feelings of bliss, or uninhibited carefreeness, Feels Like a Holiday as a whole seems a tad more like the sort of folk-by-numbers track that you’d hear in a yogurt commercial, or some other corporate representation of heartiness. Even if they are tongue-in-cheek, with lyrics about birds singing, and the sun shining, it’s hard not to feel a bit full on the sickly-sweetness of the whole ordeal. Ferrante’s vocal harmonies are objectively pleasant enough, but overall, this album-opener feels a bit sterile in its generic brand of prescription happiness.

Luckily, this isn’t a one-note EP, as the second track, Better Angels, opens immediately with some much-needed dynamics, allowing Ferrante to paint in a stark contrast to the album-opener.

Better Angels fleshes out a morose and sprawling Folk landscape, comprised of American-frontier inspired acoustic guitars, and complete with a tambourine, and a rattling noise in the chorus that conjures up imagery of snakes and cowgirl boots.

At times, the acoustic guitar texturizing the background behind Ferrante’s hazy vocals even veer a bit into Latin sounding territories. This dynamic soundscape lends itself quite well to Ferrante’s strong vocal performance, which is smokey and filled with intent as she delivers lines such as “I know that what he did to you is what he did to me/ I pray Better angels set you free”.

The next track brings back some of the cheerfulness of the first track, but with a pulse provided by the swinging groove, and some well-placed key-changes. On this track, Ferrante’s voice adopts almost a Country-Western quality during the verses, before shifting to a more pop-friendly intonation on the choruses.

The last track Symphony contains some of the most powerful and clever songwriting on SKY. The instrumentation is stripped down to subdued sounding drums, an array of piano chords, and Ferrante’s most visceral vocal riffs on the EP. As the piano chords change keys from downtrodden, to hopeful and back, Ferrante conveys a wide spectrum of emotions that feel appropriate to end the EP on.

SKY feels like a solid effort by an artist on the cusp of finding her voice. And while the upbeat pop-efforts feel at times cloying and synthetic, the authenticity of the neigh cinematic sonic imagery found on the more Americana based tracks show enough promise to warrant an appraisal into a full-length effort by Caroline Ferrante in the near future.

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