otta - Songbook EP Music Album Reviews

The London-based singer-songwriter takes a leap forward with a nuanced and meticulous set of electro-pop.

Seven years ago, the London-based Anna Ottridge could be found on YouTube performing acoustic versions of Amy Winehouse and English folk trio Daughter. Her voice—agile and slightly smoky—was already refined, but the music was not her own, and the coffeehouse-cover-singer archetype was well-worn. In the years since, Ottridge has developed her own distinctive songcraft. These days, Anna Ottridge is otta, and her new EP Songbook (released on producer Kwes’ BOKKLE imprint) is a promising collection of meticulous electro-pop tempered by her dusky vocals. Songbook is Ottridge’s second release under her new moniker, following her 2020 debut EP after it all blew over, and it stands apart from her prior work; across eight tracks, she details her bedroom-pop compositions with a lush palette of synthesizers, saxophone, organ, and midi strings, bringing her closer to an avant pop group like Field Music than the cafe singer-songwriter she used to be.
Songbook is bookended by its two strongest tracks: “never see” and “just like the rain,” which are also the EP’s most uptempo and danceable moments. The former maximizes three main elements: canned percussion, a crawling bassline, and otta’s layered vocals, stacked like a sheaf of crisp paper. “never see” is a promise that there is someone out there who is made to love you—who “wants to know the smell of your soap.” But the song is as much of a warning as it is a pledge: you might be standing in your own way of that love. When a tangle of grim synthesizers swarm the song’s final moments, it’s difficult to tell if the story ends in love or loss—a marker of otta’s nuanced approach.

“just like the rain” is similarly bittersweet, bobbing between a disco beat and thumping bass as otta turns phrases that sound wiser than her 23 years. “Nothing can keep you from yourself if you don’t let yourself out,” she sings, before the song is washed away in a synthesized downpour, groaning saxophone, and swipes of piano. otta’s manipulation of her vocal tracks is particularly interesting here—she braids them into strange, eerie howls. It’s a welcome subversion of her otherwise-sweet melodies.

otta’s skills as a producer (and engineer and mixer) are evident throughout Songbook, and they set her apart from countless young artists coming up in the South London scene. Musical interlude “suihku” is particularly compelling—a slaw of vocal samples and synthesizer fragments chopped at a frantic pace. There are hints of anxious electronica buried throughout the EP, but “suihku” reveals them in their bare and bracing form.

If Songbook has one major flaw, it’s the late-album ballad “no more tears.” Here, otta’s vocals are glossed over with AutoTune, compressing her unique and vulnerable voice and making it sound like everybody else’s. The song falls prey to a recent trend that seemingly requires fledgling artists to use Vocoder on a minimum of one song per album (see: Porridge Radio’s “(Something),” Becky and the Birds’ “Do U Miss Me,” and ALASKALASKA’s “Arrows,” to start). It’s as if otta is ticking a box labeled “Contemporary Music Trend,” an understandable urge for a young artist, but unnecessary for someone with such a developed style. Anna Ottridge may still be finding her voice as otta, but Songbook makes an exciting case for the search itself.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
otta - Songbook EP Music Album Reviews otta - Songbook EP Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, August 13, 2020 Rating:

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