EP Review: Agata Karczewska – You’re Not So Special (NMF 71 Winner)

Agata Karczewska sounds like she’s from the American southeast, but she’s actually from Poland. And she can sing her soul like few that we’ve heard in the past few years. The deep spirituality and evocative writing style on this album is enough to keep you coming back for multiple listens.

The featured track that won her the feature is “Envy is my sin,” a thoughtful reflection on the sin of envy. It’s a bit celebratory and confessional, all rolled into one. The thoughtfulness of the track sounds more like a diary than a sincere prayer, but either way it’s fascinating to be let into someone’s mind and heart like this. The simple acoustic guitar and vocal work keep production from getting in the way of good music.

The opening track is a song called “Prince Henry,” giving a throwback folk vibe from the start. There’s a country twang to it, but with an international flavor. The writing is impressive, with metaphorical turns and creative imagery.

“My Own Jolene” has a unique pacing. It’s a song about frustration. When the rhythm shifts after the introduction, it turns into a bluesy acoustic track. The core of the song seems to be about moving on, which is a great theme that we can support.

The following “People Who Kiss and Tell” sounds a bit distant in the recording. Maybe it’s more minimalist than the others. The vocal line is at the top of the lead vocal’s register, but it’s still emotional and interesting. The line “we were driving to express our loneliness” is worth the price of admission.

The last track “Don’t Destroy My World Today” reminds me of the Lilith Fair artists of the 90s. It’s angsty and full of all that vitriol. The structure is simple with acoustic chords and a repetitive melody, but it is a wonderful vehicle to deliver an urgent personal message.

All told it is an interesting record. The “Envy is my sin” track is by far the best on the album, giving Karczewska a benchmark for future projects. It will be interesting if she takes that modern folk angle or if she pulls back to more of an alt rock angsty singer songwriter vibe. In any event, she’s an artist to watch in 2018.

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