Album Review :
See You Soon - Don't Give Up EP
Artist: See You Soon
Album: Don’t Give Up EP
Buy It: Smartpunk or Amazon MP3
Review by the Headless Horseman.
2. Run Run Girl
3. Never Be The Same
4. Don’t Give Up
5. Fall In Love
7. If You Want To
There are two kinds of musicians: those who are like Flight of the Conchords, and those who aren’t.
Explaining the meaning of this will be difficult, so allow me to illustrate. Rise Against are not like Flight of the Conchords. They play political-activist radio punk/rock. If you want a catchy song to make you mad at our President, they’re your group, and you know that. Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em is not like Flight of the Conchords. You know you need some Soulja when you’re getting hyphy in you’re B-apes. His music fills a reasonable need. Granted, the most hyph in your step may have been jamming to “Billie Jean” in the back of a school bus, but the fact that you will never need this music does not mean that there isn’t a realistic need for it in the eyes of the public. Obviously most people can superman their loose women a little bit better than you, and thus we have Flo Rida, Soulja, etc.
So where do Flight of the Conchords come in? They represent a need the public could never have conceived of having to fill. They fill the need to have soundtracks to a TV show about a comedy band from New Zealand that pretends it plays serious music. I think we can all agree that no one expected to need to fill that niche. Eminem is like Flight of the Conchords: he fills our need for a white dude rapping about bad mushrooms, Tom Green having relations with moose(s), and murdering his wife/ex-wife while taking his daughter on a playdate. We probably didn’t see that one coming either. Secret & Whisper are like Flight of the Conchords: no one thought we’d need a group of guys to fill our need for a band that sound exactly like Saosin. But they decided we did and they did indeed fill it, and so everyone’s happy.
All this to say that there are some musicians who fill needs in our music-listening lives we could never have expected to have. In my case, this is true of Sarah’s (last name unknown, formerly singer and keyboardist of Avarium) project See You Soon. See You Soon fill the need in my life for some girl-driven acoustic “emo”-pop worship/rock. Honestly, I thought I’d be okay without anything from that particular niche. But as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its genre. Don’t Give Up is a rather unique release, and more than that, a promising solo debut from the singer-songwriter.
But the love relationship didn’t begin immediately. Opener “Lights” is one of the EP’s more bland cuts, and while it’s enjoyable nonetheless, it shows signs of some of the problems that persist throughout Don’t Give Up. The vocals sound great, but the guitar — the only other instrument — is a bit muffled. “Lights” is mid-tempo, with quickly strummed chords and occasional lead melodies. It drifts by without a particularly notable chorus, and before you know it, it’s gone. It’s only one track, but the problem is that every song sounds essentially like this. The only song that isn’t in D-major is “Perfect,” so the first five tracks blend into each other to an extent. The strumming patterns are fairly similar on the faster cuts (“Lights,” “Run Run Girl,” “Don’t Give Up”), and on those tracks the lyrics, while more competently done than most of Sarah’s contemporaries, are just vague enough to float by. Key changes are a must, and a few more pronounced vocal hooks would help differentiate between songs and make them more individually memorable.
But these moments, while sometimes not distinct, are nearly always enjoyable. “Lights” is the EP’s weakest track, and from there, it only gets better as it goes on. “Never Be The Same” is a compelling ballad about God’s everlasting love for us (“And I’ll sing forever about how you’ve never given up on me…Oh, God, I pray that things will never be the same again! And Jesus, Jesus, how I trust you, how I’ve proved you over and over…Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus…“), providing a lyrical and musical standout on the front end. “Fall In Love” is the most subdued cut here, and the sparse production and yearning vocals should cause single men to collapse in sobbing heaps. “Perfect” changes up the key, which is more than welcome by this point, and it’s a great song in its own right about our true friends, our role models, those who represent Christ to us. And Sarah saves her best for last: “If You Want To” is a near-frolicsome worship song (“You will always be my everything; I’m made to bring you glory. Until this heart of mine stops, O God, I will praise you!”) that I can’t really describe to you from my chair as a self-appointed music critic. As a prayer, this is a poignant one.
Perhaps the best musicians are those who create an improbable need for their music. I picked up the Don’t Give Up EP expecting to find someone who could perhaps fill the void One Star Story left in the independent girl-pop market. And this record does that; in fact, it’s better than anything the latter band put out in their time with us. So that’s a credit to Sarah, but lest I damn her with faint praise, you, O reader, should know that this is a magical CD that can surprise you. It can make you sing, dance, pray, hit on girls, and so much more. And isn’t that what music is all about?
Flight of the Conchords would be proud.
Rating: 7.5/10. A great debut, with hopefully much more to come.
Standout Tracks: “Never Be The Same,” “Perfect,” “If You Want To”
RIYL: Flight of the Conchords and Eminem. (jk. I actually don’t really know, to be honest. You should give it a try if you like Jesus and girls with guitars.)