Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
Last week here on the Independent Spotlight, we showcased Susan Galbraith, a Seattle-based singer songwriter who had recently debuted a new pop-tinged effort, ‘Need You Here.’ Prior to the release of that single, however, Galbraith’s most recent release was her sophomore EP, ‘Some Freedom.’ Thus, here on the Independent Spotlight this morning, we’ll be delving deep into that EP and determining if it’s worth adding to your indie music collection.
As I remarked in last week’s review, ‘Some Freedom’ strikes a unbelievable dichotomy between itself and Galbraith’s most recent release. ‘Need You Here’ is a very pop-oriented pursuit, whereas ‘Some Freedom’ is an EP focused heavily in soul, R&B, and blues musings. The stunning introductory track, which is also the titular tune, is a perfect culmination of that.
‘Some Freedom,’ the song, is an immediate showcase of several key things that make this EP so excellent. Firstly, Galbraith’s vocal chops are a force to be reckoned with. She injects these songs with an impressive amount of emotion, and her delivery is poignant throughout. Second, the band backing Galbraith is absolutely superb. They accent her performance perfectly.
As one delves deeper into ‘Some Freedom,’ however, it only becomes more of a treat. ‘I Can’t Breathe,’ for instance, is one of the finest songs in the collection. It’s just the right amount of ‘pop’ infectiousness and soul. Even though the song is layered with beautiful instrumental intricacy, the core chorus is still borderline anthemic. There’s a balance between accessibility and complexity that Galbraith handles well on ‘I Can’t Breathe.’
‘Only The Good’ is one of Galbraith’s forays into more bluesy sonic themes. “Tragedy comes like a thief in the night, robbing us of all we knew,” she croons in the tune as the landscape is filled with a fantastic keys lead that sounds like it was performed on an organ or a wurlitzer. Sporadically, a blues-infused electric guitar hops in and out of the track as well, accentuating Galbraith nicely.
Once I reached ‘A Better You’ on the album, I finally pinned down the two performers Susan Galbraith reminds me of: Mavis Staples and Norah Jones. One could absolutely hear Staples performing a song like ‘A Better You,’ and the song is also reminiscent of Jones’ most recent single, ‘Carry On.’ Needless to say, I’d love to see Galbraith explore soul and blues even further, and perhaps even gospel or jazz.
While ‘Only The Good’ flirts with the blues, ‘No Money’ embraces it to the fullest. If I was to classify it, I’d argue Galbraith’s blues style is regionally most akin to Texan blues. There’s some Double Trouble influence that seeps through in the song’s guitar solo, and it’s a polished tune that still holds a noticeable rawness. (Blues, of course, sounds very different from region to region: New Orleans, Chicago, Memphis, Texas, etc.)
‘You Say’ is arguably the album’s most intriguing track. It incorporates bits and pieces of each genre that Galbraith explores in the five tracks preceding it, and the instrumentation is the most outstanding of the whole EP. The classical introduction of the track alone is enough to send a chill down one’s spine.
‘Some Freedom’ is one of the best indie EP’s I’ve reviewed in a long while. Galbraith is a strong lyricist, and while she tackles age old themes of love and strife on the album, she does so with such grace that each song feels completely original and different from the last. More so, ‘Some Freedom’ exhibits a woman with a masterful hand over soul, R&B, and blues. One can only hope her eventual junior effort builds on top of the incredibly strong foundation ‘Some Freedom’ has built below it.