Eryn Allen Kane: a tree planted by water [Album Review]
Chicago-based artist, Eryn Allen Kane, is a vocal powerhouse. Her voice yields incredibly jazzy and soulful music with an incredibly vulnerable tone. Also, she’s worked with Prince for goodness sake. Eryn is a native of Detroit, but she’s lived in a number of places including Australia and now lives in Chicago. She has been involved with projects by many other Chicago-based artists including Chance the rapper, Noname, Saba and Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment. As of June of 2019, she’s dropped three singles and three full projects, including her latest project a tree planted by water. Her music video for “Have Mercy” shows some contemporary dance moves and really creates that “oh so you a artist artist” type of feel and it looks like her new music will be in the same vain.
Her music has always been full of soul and emotion and her voice in particular has a lot of pain and suffering in it. Her song and video for “Fragile” really work to communicate this pain and not just sonically. Eryn said that she wrote the song “about generational trauma. Building barriers between us and our own emotions. Disassociating ourselves from our own bodies and our own feelings as a means to cope. This is about the beauty and strength in vulnerability. About healing.” Vulnerability is my absolute favorite thing in art whether it is visual art, music, it doesn’t matter. Creating art and then allowing others to consume it is already hard to do. In a way, the creative process is already a vulnerable one. So when you take that product and use it to bare your soul even more, it really makes an incredible project. Using this record to encourage others to get in touch with their emotions and to heal, there’s no doubt that it helps her do the same.
Kane’s new EP is a breath of fresh air for old souls like myself. She collaborated with Aja Monet to create a project infused with performance poetry, which further blurs the line between music and literature, which I am a big fan of. The very first track “Feel the Need” reminds me of the film Hidden Figures, specifically, the soundtrack to Hidden Figures. Pharrell produced the entire soundtrack, if I’m remembering correctly, that was the year that he won Producer of the Year award at the Grammys. He did a great job of honing in on the 1950s in with the music and I think Kane’s music does this as well.
Eryn Allen Kane said herself that this is an album for black women and it honestly feels like one. Unlike many popular songs that claim to be "for the ladies," when in reality they paint an awful picture of women, this album is truly for us. There are several moments where Kane addresses us directly on each of the four tracks where her singing is prominent.From having us take an introspective look at ourselves on "Fragile" to assuring us that this is a collective journey on "With You" Eryn is talking to black women. Though the song is only eight tracks and only four of which are songs, the project does not seem incomplete, nor does it seem like it was rushed or made in haste. Thus far, Eryn Allen Kane has proven herself to be an artist that does not rush to make moves, her last full length project came in 2016. Also, she has also proven herself to be an artist that does a lot with a little. I hate when projects feel like they go on for far too long and I'm happy that this one dos not. This is one of those albums that I didn’t know I needed until I had listened to it several times. I want a longer project from Eryn Allen Kane, but only for my own selfish reasons, not because I feel like she actually needs to put out longer projects. I also hope that we get a visual for another song on the album, I don’t have a preference for which song it is, but I hope that there’s at least one more visual.