Kelly Hoppenjans – “Dreaming is Easy” EP Review
by Dayna Duncan
Kelly Hoppenjans is one of those singer/songwriters who can craft a song that holds every component that is deemed “great” by industry standards. Rich, full, and stylized vocals, lyrics and songwriting that gives you depth without going over your head, and musicianship that creates whimsy, clarity, and delight. Run-on sentences aside, I’m going to even push it a little further and instead of calling her music “great,” I’m going to call it stellar. Truly, unabashedly, stellar.
Her newly released EP “Dreaming Is Easy” is and easy, breezy, morsel of yumminess. From beginning to end, the songs move you up and down and side to side, while keeping you beguiled.
The first song, “Garden of Little White Lies” is a bluesy, soul-infused tune that layers not only incredible vocals, but power. Similar to Joss Stone, but don’t let that confuse you into thinking she sounds like someone else, because Kelly surely does not. A song about deceit and lies definitely needs some great blues riffs, walking bass guitar, and some gritty vocals. This song delivers!
Song two, “Sell Me Short” opens with a yummy rockabilly, old-timey guitar sound. A song about longing for another, pining and sadness are the ticket. However, the song is surprisingly light and airy. Like a feather scorned by a lover. If a feather could be scorned. Or have a lover.
“Don’t Go” is a great song in a similar vein as Sarah Bareilles, Amy Winehouse, or miss Stone mentioned above. Lyrically and musically, it’s pretty simple using the electric piano sound versus a regular one. The bass lines are pretty wonderful, though. I really like what her bass player does to add a level of depth to her songs, especially this one. It shows fantastic musicianship and editing.
Always a sucker for a piano-driven sad song, admittedly, my favorite song on the EP is “I Fall.” It’s a poignant song about a lover who you don’t need, but can’t seem to throw away. Whether love or friendship, we’ve all had a toxic person in our life who no matter what, you fall…over and over for it. It’s so beautifully written and performed. Vocally, Kelly does things that I hadn’t heard yet on this EP so far and she truly showcases her powerhouse status.
The final song on the EP is “The Trouble Is Waking Up” and it’s got a great guitar and “hallow” drum intro. Minor chords and the addition of symphonic elements make the verses haunting and ethereal. But, then, just like that, the chorus brings us back down to earth for a genuine, classic rock song. It’s a nice addition to an album relying on a more bluesy sound throughout. Like mentioned before, she does something different every song and really takes us on an interesting journey.
I like a great musical ride, and this EP is one of the best I’ve been on in a while. Amazing vocals. Warm lyrics. Rich music. It’s a singer/songwriter triumph.