Erin Lang: Preview From Choose Your Own Adventure EP (99X/10, 2006)
Canadian by way of Great-Britain singer-songwriter Erin Lang has quite the pedigree behind her music. With her bassist father from April Wine and her songwriting and production efforts with keyboardist Roger O’Donnell (The Cure), and friendship with Canadian rock group Sloan, Lang can boast of the privileged music circles she has interacted with her entire life. With such a background, one would half-expect Lang’s music to come across as some kind of Paris Hilton project…all fluff and hype and bells and whistles, but no substance. Listeners may wonder if Lang would hide behind her background when it came for her time to create music, and if her intention to make music was just a matter of blindly and thoughtlessly following in the footsteps of her father and friends. After all, who doesn’t secretly enjoy it when a spoiled opportunistic languishes in their own lack of talent while trying to capture something of the greatness of their social circles or family background?
But, as her self-titled EP preview of her upcoming full-length Choose Your Own Adventure reveals, Lang is no spoiled brat, and the young songwriter more than stands on her own art. With a voice delivering songs every bit as delicate and graceful as her front-cover photograph, Lang proves that her sublime music is sincere, and well-crafted. Sounding at times like a less-classically influenced Stina Nordenstam, Lang delivers smartly crafted songs in a pretty and slightly-electronic production. Lang carves out her own musical niche on this short 6 song collection (4 songs + 2 remixes), shunning the temptation to let her pedigree wear on her sleeve. The result is a dainty but slightly sombre collection of chique dark-pop subtly electric songs that stay with the listener well after the EP stops playing.
The whole concept of the CD (essentially it’s an EP that showcases different versions of songs that are on the upcoming full-length, as well as some songs that won’t appear on the disc) gives the listener a chance to be introduced to this rising talent. Lang opens with an analog beat that introduces “Happy To See You”. Immediately the song presents itself as a slithering melody sung by Lang’s wisp of a voice, anchored in subtle guitar lines and gently warbling electronics. As the chorus heralds more O’Donnell analog synth sounds, Lang’s songwriting expands elegantly to incorporate a flowing melody and counter-melodies. The song is a wonderful introduction, as it showcases not only Lang’s songwriting and singing talents, but it also showcases Lang’s slightly whimsical style. “Til Then” then expands on the otherworldliness of Lang’s music, as cascading synths warm her slowcore-esque melody. More subtle electronics bob under the surface of the song, while Lang sings softly “You are the moon outside my window”. Lang’s music has a romantic quality about it, due to the vulnerability and sincerity present in her vocals, as well as her lyrics and songwriting. “Lightning” follows, with a lingering guitar melody and soft electronic beats giving the song swaying feel. The song sparkles melodically, especially during the chorus, as Lang layers her vocals effectively while singing the petite melody. The best song on the disc may perhaps be the haunting “You’re Coming Home”. The song is dominated in the production by excellent synth work, while supported by smart guitar and piano lines. The chord structures and melody unite to create a ethereal effect. Following this fine song are two remixes: one being a heavier electronic remix of “Happy To See You” by label mate Ecce which creates just enough tension in the song while not overwhelming the delicate vocals and melodies, and the other being a remix of “Lightning” that gives the song a more aggressive feel, due to the busier electronic percussion samples.
All in all, Preview From Choose Your Own Adventure offers a satisfying glimpse into this often fascinating artist. Lang steps out of the shadows of her family and friendship history to own her own often stunning brand of music. Preview From Choose Your Own Adventure will likely appeal to fans of Portishead, and Stina Nordenstam, among others, but in the end, Lang’s sweet songs and slight voice are her own to be enjoyed separate from any comparisons to other artists. Erin Lang is an artist to be on the watch for. Highly recommended!
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