Published Apr 22, 2020As the bassist, keyboardist and vocalist of the now-defunct band Mauno, Eliza Niemi made angular, occasionally frantic pop-rock that jutted out where you never quite expected it to. On her second solo EP, Glass, Niemi takes a softer approach to songwriter, but the unexpectedness remains.
The four songs on Glass are different from the contemporary gentleness that can be found on, say, Spotify's undercurrents playlist. Niemi's songs are curiously paced and punctuated by staccato guitar notes and occasionally Evan Cartwright's light percussion work. Closer "Big Fun Party" — an off-kilter pop tune that could soundtrack a tearful walk home — is the only song with a chorus.
Despite the varied nature of the songs, the EP is smooth, like a shard of glass after decades of being battered and bruised by the sea. Niemi is contained, focused and comforting on Glass, as we track her own emotional growth. On "R1," she sings "I'm still cold. Maybe when I'm old I'll heat." As "R1" glides into "Flip" on the back of Niemi's cello bow, we are greeted by a realization: "I'm old now and I find that it's nicer to be kind than to be cold all the time."
There is a calculated simpleness to the folky and poppy instrumentation of Glass that allows Niemi — who has an exceptional sing-speak vocal style — to be attuned to her own emotions, as well as other people's, and she unravels them however she is called to do.