Vanda - 'Moving On'

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.

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we set our gaze on Michelle Vanda, who has released her debut EP this week. ‘Moving On’ is an eclectic little four track collection available now on iTunes and Apple Music. The effort is a sonic journey through soul-tinged indie pop. Let’s dig right into it.

It’s worth immediately noting that this isn’t a necessarily a solo project - ‘Vanda’ is the band - a three piece outfit fronted by Vanda. The Los Angeles-based trio has built up a modest following ever since Vanda departed her hometown of Chicago to pursue her musical career.

‘Alone’ opens up the album with defiant force. Vanda has an absolutely stunning voice that is beautifully accented by a sparse piano and elegant string section. Chock-full of soul, this song blurs the line between blue-eyed soul and accessible pop music. The song is intensely well written as well - it recounts the story of a compelling character that still manages to find her way through the darkest days, despite being alone. (Or in a relationship where she may as well be alone.) There’s an underlying feeling of inspiration on the tune, though. I dig that. It isn’t gushy or cheesy.

As aforementioned, the EP is truly eclectic. When you hit ‘Keep On Waiting,’ you’re met with a snappy, acoustic-driven pop tune that completely rearranges Vanda’s persona. The superb song does what it does well: it’s an infectiously catchy pop tune with positive vibes, harmonies, and production. Vanda remains the driving force behind the music. She’s the vehicle for this music and that is made abundantly clear again and again.

The reverb-soaked, atmospheric ‘Paradise’ sends Vanda into electronic pastures. It’s as if they were recording the record with a checklist of genres. The songs take massive leaps, departing from the musical intricacies of the previous tracks very measurably. It does, however, work. It doesn’t feel disconjointed or dodgy; Vanda holds everything together and weaves a commonality through the tracks. ‘Paradise’ is a killer electronic pop song.

Finally, ‘Struck Gold’ is a happy medium between ‘Keep On Waiting’ and ‘Alone.’ This emotion-filled song matched perfectly with an electric guitar piece is a terrific finale. The song blows up quickly, slamming the listener with an anthem of organized chaos. “I struck gold when I found you,” Vanda croons in the best song of the record.

‘Moving On’ is the best indie pop record I’ve reviewed in a few months. The band covers more ground on four tracks than some artists do on a thirty track collection. For a first impression, this EP couldn’t be much better. I absolutely can’t wait to see what Vanda does next - the talent is there, as is the passion. That’s all that matters, right?

The EP: