By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Though her brand of melancholy is more akin to Jenny Lewis than St. Vincent, local singer-songwriter Jessie Frye is likely to draw more comparisons to the latter, thanks to her decision to enlist John Congleton as the engineer and co-producer for her latest EP, Fireworks Child.
That's mostly a shame. The bolder, more electrified pop sound Frye showcases on her new release stands as a fine, logical step forward from the careful precision displayed on her previous efforts. Credit Congleton if you must, but it's clear that the Denton native has grown plenty on her own since the release of her 2009 debut EP, The Delve.
Sure, songs like "Sleeping Tornadoes" still feature her meticulous piano playing and remnants of the hours she spent practicing classical piano as a youth. But now they're also tempered by slick arrangements and interesting bits of eerie string swells.
If there's a knock here, it's that the disc comes off almost too perfect, too polished. While decisions to add small amounts of distortion to Frye's vocals on "Prepared," especially when they are otherwise delivered with AutoTune-like precision, do a lot to liven up the track, one can't help wonder if their purpose is rather to distract from the album's otherwise seeming infallibility.
No, her lyrics and vocal delivery aren't a problem for the young songstress: Biting lyrics such as "How do you grow without sunshine? / How do you know without giving things a try?" on the track "Fortune Teller" are delivered in a cabaret-like snark as Frye is able to show off her sassy personality and allow her seductively captivating attitude to shine through.
But hey, we can't all be perfect. And when Frye fully realizes this fact, little will stop her from releasing a wonderfully potent full-length. Or from altogether blossoming into a full-fledged monster in the pop world.