by Isabella Soares
Some artists are impossible to place inside a certain musical genre, for each of their songs have a life of their own. When you think you know what to expect from the next track, you are continuously surprised by the different nuances they showcase. Georgia Van Etten without a doubt fits this category. Her latest work Deep Black Water displays anything and everything from Florence + The Machine orchestrations to early 90s hits by The Cranberries.
It all begins with the mystical harmonies in the “Prelude,”which slowly progress to intense strings and drums. The arrangement easily blends into the title track and do not get me started on this one! The rock’n’roll guitars and Van Etten’s vocal delivery are the most fulfilling combination a concertgoer could find. It is a shame that live events have been delayed, because “Deep Black Water” was made to unite audiences with hums and stomps. Not to mention the powerful message it conveys about living in a money-driven society and trying to keep up with the never-ending demands.
The tone shifts completely to banjos and sways when “Emma Lee” begins to play. This acoustic arrangement is simple, but the lyrics are heart wrenching since they dwell on people that pursue validation through unworthy relationships. As mentioned beforehand, this album continues to take bold turns. “Oh Mother” has a beautiful violin intro that briefly reminds you of the Scottish emblematic soundtracks found in period dramas. Yet, the rest of the track proceeds on a different course, reminiscent of soulful jazz.
The tempo becomes upbeat again in “I’d Like To Be.” For some reason, this Alicia Keys-inspired arrangement strikes as a B-side in comparison to the rest of the album. Once again, Van Etten steps onto the Soul territory in “Suddenly,” where she surely is triumphant. Her melodious voice knows how to balance emotions and high notes. Still, nothing sounds better in her work than the bluegrass/rock anthems! “The Other Side” featuring our very own Winnipegger Joey Landreth is a true highlight. From the guitar riffs to the striking duet, this one will definitely appeal to the Fleetwood Mac fans!
A piano ballad! This was the only thing missing before “Painted People” made its statement. It reflects on those who strive to be perfect looking, but can’t prevent the damage from the inside. Lastly, we arrive at “Postscript-’52 Cadillac,” a raw demo that completes the journey that is Deep Black Water.
Altogether, Georgia Van Etten’s debut body of work is a brilliant collection of various references, which in no way, shape or form takes away its originality. On the contrary, it is an impactful piece that demonstrates how eclectic the singer-songwriter is and how we can literally expect anything from her. Being able to tackle down different music genres is tough, but it seems like Georgia Van Etten is more than capable of doing so.