Enchanting female artists are my favorite things ever in music. Well, I say a lot of “things” are my favorite “things” in music – and I admit I may contradict myself often. But, in truth, I love a strong female force in the modern music current. Recently, a honeyed alto voice with impressive songwriting power made its way through the airwaves to my yearning ears. DC-based Bobbie Allen, the heart behind the title, Young Summer, has just released an EP of 6 new tracks. Influenced by Michael Jackson and Karen Carpenter, Young Summer initially weaves wisdom and beauty into tenacious pop tracks, then strangely veers toward country in the second half of the album…
The first and most temping track of the EP is “Fever Dream.” This eighties-washed tune immediately brought to mind the sexy confidence of songstress Jessie Ware combined with the driving contemporary sounds of Summer Camp. Yeah, pretty cool. Allen sings ‘turning over time here in my sleep, in this fever dream, sleeping on the side you used to be, in this fever Dream.’ Throughout the pulsed synth chords, the dream-like yet modern sound of the track is sure to strike a pang in all summer-lovin’ hearts.
There’s something really intimate about a poised artist admitting defeat and regret through a confident melody. Allen conveys a battle against herself in the track “Waves That Rolled You Under”; as she sings, ‘don’t be so scared of the things that you love,’ her gentle harmonies swell beautifully before the catchy and heartbreaking chorus kicks in.
“Letter Never Sent” poses striking discord and syncopation in this mournful ballad, The track features the male vocals of Trent Dabbs who acts as the male perspective in the fight for romance. They sing, ‘one day I hope you’ll say I was the one who almost got away.’ The honest tension in the lyrics and gravity in the spilling strings definitely deserves a listen.
The final three songs are indeed polished, but perhaps not as novel as the first few. As the album continues, a strange shift progresses.
To put it bluntly: Country. Country happens.
“Half the Time” is a cute track, gently stepping into the folk arena. Allen presents a simple, pretty sound, but is it as exciting or unique as the previous tracks? I’m not so sure. Besides the likable poetic lyrics (‘those blue eyes were a gateway drug’), the sound shift takes away from the cohesiveness of Young Summer’s inceptive modern resonance.
“Close to Home” is a piano-based memoir, again featuring the romantic sound of a female/male duet. They plead for ‘piece of mind’ and a ‘hint of you now around here, close to me.” Maybe it’s just the starkness of the melodic repetition, but this song comes off as dusty and hollow – an album filler. Lastly, “Sun Comes Out” is a bonus track that is shiny and summery and – yet again – merely cute, so far from the first songs that played with powerful dream-pop.
The tracks appear to lose personality and energy as the EP continues. “Fever Dream” is prominent and captivating, as well as the following two tracks. But the remaining unravels into clichés and a repetitive twangs.
All in all, the unity of an album is imperative as the musical “identity” of an artist (created through the solidarity of albums) is what allows listeners to connect, relate, and return for more.
But don’t just take it from me – I encourage giving Young Summer a listen. After all, I’m a southern California girl. I have this “thing” for surf punk and synth pop and strange musical clashes, followed by an on-going disagreement with country music. I’d rather have my toes in the sand than ride around in a beat-up pickup truck in 100-degree weather, but you, dear reader, you may be different.