It’s becoming ever more popular to release very raw, underproduced music, and listening to Auckland songwriter Avya Grace’s debut EP, ‘Voicemail,’ you can understand why. Built around the theme of things that might have been said in a phone call but weren’t, the EP almost sounds like it could’ve been recorded on a mobile phone. Perfect! This demo-like production quality adds to the intense raw emotion of Grace’s songwriting.
‘Voicemail’ consists of just three songs, intimately delivered with acoustic guitar and haunting, breathy vocals. Listening gives the feeling that you’re witnessing the singer practising in her bedroom, and like Grace is singing directly to you. Lyrically, the EP deals with the tried and true topic of lost love, Grace approaching it from a very personal angle, detailing the thoughts and emotions that come after a breakup. If this was a longer project, it would be a good idea to include some variation in the instrumentation, if only to accentuate the diversity in songwriting, but just having acoustic guitar works fine here. The three-song EP has the sense of being very real and honest.
Opener Don’t You Dare sets the tone, but takes a slightly more confrontational approach than the other two tracks, dealing with accusations of her love for someone being a lie. “Don’t say that I didn’t love you,” Grace sings over a syncopated picked guitar. “Cause I loved you the best that I could.”
Her voice can be heard shaking on both Bruises and You, as if she’s on the verge of tears, adding to the authenticity and vulnerability of the listening experience. Backed by a strummed guitar which creates a dreamy atmosphere, Bruises is a touching song about learning to live with a broken heart. “I have to live with the feeling of losing,” Grace sings in the chorus. “This is what it’s like to live with bruising inside.”
You, the closer, is a definite standout, boasting the most delicate and expressive chorus melody on the EP. Coupled with lyrics professing unrequited but unconditional love, the effect is remarkable. “It’s no one’s fault if you don’t feel the way I do,” she sings. “I can’t expect to win, sometimes I’ve gotta lose/ But you should know it’s always you that I would choose/ Above all else, it’s always you.”
Many would judge a project’s worth by its production. This approach, however, isn’t applicable to ‘Voicemail.’ Instead of hiding behind the production, Avya Grace has chosen to bare her heart and soul, and that is a truly commendable quality in an artist.