Kina Grannis is a supremely talented musician. Her vocals are out of this world. I’ve been keeping an ear on her for a while now, but this new album really takes a superb step up. The production quality on the album is of the highest quality, allowing the songs to come through in their fullest charm. It’s a must listen album for all fans of pop music and really great songwriting. It’s the kind of music that should be on popular radio – enjoyable, sing-a-long, and endearing music.
From gang vocals to “ooh” harmonies, the opening track “Dear River” gets listeners in the mood for a toe-tapping album experience. From the outset it is evident that Grannis isn’t the run of the mill vocalists. Her quality and tone is absolutely breathtaking. The upbeat vibe of the song keeps smiles aplenty.
The second track “The Fire” is the first single off of the album. Again firmly in the “pop” category, the sound effects from guitars to hand claps are all characteristic of a 21st-century pop sound. “You let a fire out and it’s right in front of me.” The image of the fire of smoke and flames, conveying both passion and conflict, is really phenomenal. It’s not the average club hopping fare of typical pop music, but has all of the addictive joy that pop music should have.
The airy and ethereal opening of “My Dear” reveals an intimate side of Grannis’s voice that is perhaps her best (which is saying something). Some of the sound effects on the track are a bit distracting from the truly romantic feel of the lyrics “you’ll always be my dear.” It’s a love song befitting a romantic comedy soundtrack. It’s got the sweetness of a Taylor Swift song with the vocal power of a classic diva. The almost symphonic sound near the end of the track has a complicated layering of backing and lead vocals for a transcendent, again ethereal sound. It’s just an amazing composition of style and grace that one does not expect from a “pop” album.
“Winter” is a simpler composition in all the right ways. “You were the one… the one who picked me… what have we become?” It’s a reflective, late-relationship song questioning the future. It’s easy to connect with and shows a genuine sense of reflection – that moment in a relationship where you know it’s just not going to work. It’s sad and sweet. A lot of people will find comfort in the honesty of this song, one in which Grannis clearly leaves her heart exposed.
A little more in the acoustic singer songwriter vibe typical of this site, “Little Worrier” could have been written for me. It’s intimate, sweet, and the lyrics hit me deep. “Don’t worry little worrier. Don’t hurry the hurt. Let the moment burn. Just take your time. This is your life. Please don’t let your tears run dry.” Wow. I love that. A similarly powerful acoustic track “Forever Blue” blends both piano and guitar into another engaging intimate song. She wonders if she’ll always be sad facing personal family issues. It seems to be a grieving song. All told, though, it does a good job of conjuring images of memories and loss that many can relate to.
“Write It In the Sky” has some gorgeous harmonies. It’s sure to be a favorite of pop music lovers who really enjoy that “perfect love story.” The emotion in the song is palpable. It’s about having one of those late night talks with a lover, looking into the sky and talking about where you’ve been. In this case, it’s actually a break up song. “Let’s not talk of the memories we’d rather deny… but we’ll carry them with us…” Quaint and delightful.
Speaking of adorable harmonies, “My Own” is flush with beautiful blending. It’s familial. It’s curl-up-in-your-comfy-spot good. It’s ultimately a song about knowing… and not knowing a person. It is a lyrical and sonic picture of the term “intimate.” It must have been a difficult song to write because it’s so insanely personal and raw (in the most amazing way possible).
The final track “This Far” is a phenomenal ending song. It’s about how she’s lived her life “this far” and reflects on some of the amazing things that have happened. It’s the kind of track that we can all connect with. It’s mostly about relationships and beauty, the artfulness of life’s complexities. Grannis eloquently uses a simple “pop” blending layered with vivid natural imagery. It comes across as sweet and gentle, but it’s really the story of someone with grit and perseverance in a difficult business that is a part of a difficult world.
All told this is the kind of album that really should be popular. Grannis has the chops to sing on the highest stages. Her songwriting is at the absolute highest level as well. She might not do the typical folk style that we typically cover, but her music deserves press and an audience. Fans of Taylor Swift and similar “pop” singer songwriters will absolutely adore this album. It should be blasting through the ipods of teen and 20-something girls all over the world. If you think you only have time for one track, check out “My Dear”… then comment here when you fall in love.