A Smokefree Rockquest veteran, who won the Christchurch regional finals when she was only 15, Claudia Jardine‘s new EP ‘North’ manages to capture the simple essence of folk in peppy songs that walk the listener through a story of self-growth and discovery.
Building neatly from very delicate finger-picked acoustic guitar into a fully orchestrated radio track then back again, the EP’s title track opens things on an upbeat tone. Whimsy vocals and sweet guitar are backed with the silvery jingle of tambourines in the following song, Close (I’m In Trouble), which has a more reserved vibe, and arrangement.
While much of the instrumentation was done by Jardine, on this song her Estonia-based producer Taavi Paomets added lead guitar, and elsewhere provided BVs, strings, percussion, nylon-string guitar and keys.
There are aspects of childlike creativity all through the album such as adding the trill of a ukulele on top of the guitar in Erase Me, and the clapping integrated into Westminster. These help the listener to relax into the sort of euphoric chill that comes with sunny days at the beach or road trips through the country.
There are occasional hints of a country vibe, especially in Hide, but they are only fleeting as the overall folk sound comes back near the back of the song, which ends with Jardine singing over a single guitar, a treatment used repeatedly and to good effect on this five-song EP. There’s a good reason for that, her voice is new and interesting, and the intention is for her songs to be presented in a straight forward manner.
Recorded at Wellington’s Blue Barn studio, the simplicity and charm of this EP bode well for Jardine’s future as a popular folk singer/songwriter.