It’s easy to spot the influences on Stephanie Mann’s latest live EP. Blending easily into the likes of Madison Violet for it’s country twang, Mary Chapin Carpenter for it’s more confessional style and Colbie Caillat for it’s summery melodies, the comparisons are far from a criticism. Though the Berkeley EP nods to other artists, it also holds it’s own distinctive style and makes it obvious why Creative Scotland have agreed to fund her debut album.
Opener Follow You sets the tone. Instantly catchy, it takes all but a few bars of the chorus before you’re compelled to sign along. Yet the up tempo nature of the song juxtaposes with the sombre lyrical content. It’s here the twangy strings fuse with a flattened drum beat to accentuate the paradox maintaining the melancholy heart of country music, and entwining it with dynamic melodies.
Ain’t It Funny follows a similar vibe with more pronounced backing vocals from the band, and an intricate finger-picked bridge that acts as the highlight of the song. Meanwhile Great Love pushes to a more downbeat style and though slightly more simplistic in it’s delivery, it carries with it heart and integrity.
All in all then, it’s fair to say that The Berkeley EP is short, sweet and a resounding success. it’s a perfect showcase of Stephanie’s style and the easy production allows a greater sense of her live performances. It also acts as an indicator of things to come, and leaves me only to hope she manages to command support south of the border and doesn’t become one of Scotland’s best kept secrets.