Having gone to college in the early 2010’s, I have developed an acute aversion to anything that can be labelled “acoustic singer-songwriter.” But quad flashbacks aside, it’s nice to be reminded that the genre can actually be great. On her debut EP Our Friends Pt. I, Lila Tristram does just that.
Tristram uses the EP to flesh out her thoughts on love and relationships – be those romantic, familial, or friendly. Songs like “Arrows” feature robust metaphors to explore these topics, while “Back to Bed” is a more direct recounting of childhood events. With both approaches, Tristram’s lyrical imagery is striking. The emotional weight of these lyrics is conveyed brilliantly when combined with her impassioned vocals and soft instrumentation.
The EP is an incredibly relaxing listen. As alluded to earlier, most of the songs are centered around Tristram’s soothing acoustic guitar work, with the exception being the piano-led closer “For Grace”. The sprawling guitarwork on the other tracks is mesmerising and enchanting. For example, the guitars on “Abstractions” swell as they’re responding to the sound of the waves that underscore the song.
All of the tracks have a freeform, floating feel to them. This is generally hard to pull off convincingly, but Tristram rises to the task. While all of the songs fall into the indie pop and singer-songwriter camps, there’s still a decent amount of variety between the five tracks. The song “Arrow” is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, both in terms of the vocals and the incredible chord progression. Right after this song, things veer into psychedelic folk territory with “Into Sleep”, the most experimental track on the EP.
While this is a strong debut, there are some production flaws I hope to see ironed out in Pt. II. The main issue is the layering of the vocal tracks. The harmony and doubled vocals sometimes fall out of sync with the main melody. At times this can add the right amount of indie charm, but often it’s distracting. Also, the timbre and voicing of the synth on “Back to Bed” and “For Grace” is a bit too close to the vocals, making these parts claustrophobic. These issues won’t ruin your listening experience thankfully, but they also won’t help the EP reach its full potential either.
I’m always excited to talk about great debuts, and I’m happy Lila Tristram’s Our Friends Pt. I to the list! The shimmering pianos that close out the EP will leave you eager to hear what’s in store for Pt. II.
Lila Tristram’s debut EP Our Friends Pt. I is out now via Dark Days Music.
Best Tracks: Back to Bed, Arrow
Weakest Tracks: n/a
FFO: Joni Mitchell, Bon Iver, The Last Dinosaur
Overall Score: B+