A new EP from Vancouver-based singer-songwriter OXLIP (Jayne Trimble) proves that folk songs are alive, well, and still evolving. The four-track release titled “A Kind of Premonition” strikes a delicate balance between contemporaneity and OXLIP’s timeless, folk-imbued style, and it does so with great success. You might imagine these tunes as having been sung for hundreds of years, but there is nothing outdated about their performances. It is impossible not to bask in each of the expansive, atmospheric melodies as your ears are inevitably drawn into the peak and crest of every undulation in OXLIP’s ethereal voice.
The first track in the EP, “A Kind of Premonition,” begins with a long, drawn-out chord progression on the keyboard, luring you into the soundscape. Suddenly, OXLIP begins to sing an astoundingly gorgeous ascending melody, slipping down briefly before beginning the climb once again. Even with minimal accompaniment, her voice is more than enough to carry the performance. A slightly out-of-tune piano picks up the melody in the high register, lending the track a quaint, haunting quality.
“Someone That’s Close By” features an equally beautiful melody that is undergirded by piano, vocal harmonies, and a string quartet. At one particularly striking moment, the violin enters with a countermelody, soaring above the texture in perfect counterpoint with OXLIP’s own line. The third track, “Serpentine” could easily be an Eastern European folk song, an eerie triple-meter tune with a metrical emphasis on the off-beats, somewhat reminiscent of a polka. Percussion, the first yet heard in the EP, grants the song a degree of urgency, but does nothing to obstruct its haunting quality. Instead, the effect is as if OXLIP is subtly building tension over the four tracks, captivating the listener’s attention. Once again and without exception, the song offers a profoundly powerful melody.
“I’ve Cried All The Tears (I’m Crying’ For You)” concludes the EP with a new take on a classic Willie Nelon-esque country ballad, featuring the idiom’s quintessential bass line and use of pedal steel guitar. The tune is perhaps the most optimistic yet, allowing some exhalation after the first three tracks, but it is not without the feeling of melancholy that weaves its way through the EP. It is a worthy farewell to an excellent release.
“A Kind of Premonition” is available on all major streaming platforms.
Written by Jacob Jahiel