Musicians’ debut recordings are often the end result of years of toil, tears, false starts, and survival. Ultimately, what remains is the vision they seek to share with the public. While each artist must define personal success on his/her own terms, it’s not difficult to imagine up-and-comers breathing twin sighs of pride and relief when they finally have a finished product to present to the world. Based on the emotive songwriting showcased on their debut EPs, a promising trio of young talent (Jessica Mack, Allie Nicole Weber, and Eloise Cosgrove) can also smile with satisfaction due to their engaging sounds.
Over the course of her six-song collection, Mack mines remembrances from the past to determine the direction of the future. Whether associating defining moments in a blossoming love affair with familiar melodies (the effervescent “Mixtape”) or coping with the expectations of familial and internal pressures (“Soon”), the Arkansas native turned Nashville resident embraces her roots. Rather than holding her in place, those roots provide a foundation of determination and faith that steady her as she branches out into the unknown. An all-encompassing tenderness permeates Mack’s vocals, but only a fool would mistake that compassion for weakness. Witness the protective narrator in the piano-driven album closer “Let Jesus” who implores her abused sister to call upon the inner strength they developed as children and leave a hellish relationship. As she reassures her sibling of her worth, Mack adamantly expresses “Any girl can fall in love/But it takes a woman to walk away.”
California-born Weber crafts country-pop without apologies, drawing her audience in with infectious hooks and dynamic vocals. Whether conveying vulnerability (steel-laden ballad “No One In Your Arms But Me”) or making bold declarations, she is equally believable. In fact, during her feistier moments, listeners can’t help but feel a bit sorry for the target of her ire. “Hold on baby/I’m gonna take you to church” she warns during the bridge of the cutting album closer “Queen” before really letting loose.
Upon first listen, Cosgrove’s silvery rasp immediately captures her audience’s attention. There’s a delicacy to the Australian’s delivery, yet her voice contains enough grit to lend weight to her words. The wisdom that the Queensland resident has accumulated throughout her unconventional personal journey is reflected in her songs, which feel both fresh and folksy. While Cosgrove’s sound is distinctive, her themes are often universal. The EP’s gently rolling title track advocates embracing life’s simpler pleasures. Similarly, on the album opener “Nobody’s Gettin’ Out Alive”, Cosgrove ponders the value of chasing elusive material comforts: “What’s the point of working for something/You don’t care to achieve/Cause no matter how you spend your days/We all end up the same.” The track could be construed as a cheerfully ominous warning, but it’s also an expression of the commonalities people share. Even as she lives by her own rules, Cosgrove underscores the unifying human experiences that cross geographical and social boundaries.