Look at It in the Light

Kate Bollinger

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Look at It in the Light Review

by Marcy Donelson

Indie singer/songwriter Kate Bollinger started out on the local circuits of her home state of Virginia, uploading songs and hand-distributing CD-Rs in the years leading up to her official debut EP, 2017's Key West. It didn't take long for word to spread of her soft-spoken, nuanced vocal style, philosophical, self-aware lyrics, and a sophisticated approach to songcraft highlighted by complex chord colors. Sometime after releasing her third EP, she learned that none other than Kanye West had sampled "Candy," a song off her self-released second EP (2019's I Don't Wanna Lose) for the title track to his 2021 album, Donda, leading to broader attention and opening spots with artists spanning Jeff Tweedy and Real Estate. Bollinger's first release after this backdoor breakthrough is Look at It in the Light, her fourth consecutive EP and third with producer John Trainum. This time around, they took inspiration from recordings from the 1960s and '70s, including Beatles demos, with an eye to making each instrument distinguishable while also allowing for flaws in performance. Her Ghostly International debut, it serves as a warm and elegant introduction to her subtly idiosyncratic, jazzy take on indie pop. After a drumstick count off, the title track, for instance, incorporates tempo changes, string bending, a guitar line that alternately joins and provides counterpoint to the vocal melody, and insightful lyrics like "I know the way things change/So I try not to notice I deny my fate/I try not to notice it's a losing game." Elsewhere, lead track "I Found Out" deals in field recordings of birds, multi-tracked vocals, flute, and syncopated, stereo acoustic guitar lines in addition to another dreamy ritardando. The brighter and brisker "Who Am I But Someone" remains in daydreamy territory, sonically and lyrically, as its submerged-sounding guitars and skittering drums also shift in time. The rest of the set follows suit, with gentle earworms that marry murmured thoughts with leaping intervals, including on the delicate, vibraphone-toned closing track "Connecting Dots," which ends the EP on the mellow AM pop equivalent of a Pac-Man death effect.

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