It’s reasonable to assert that real instruments and real emotion no longer garner commercial success. But success is mostly about doing it right – and in that regard Hawkes Bay bred up-and-comer Danica Bryant seems to be on the right track. In her debut EP, ‘Cider,’ Bryant combines a keen pop sensibility with the timeless authenticity typical of the singer-songwriter tradition.
‘Cider’ shows off Bryant’s skill and versatility as a songwriter and performer. Each of the EP’s four songs are driven by energetically strummed acoustic guitar, and feature Bryant’s gritty, sultry vocals at the forefront, delivering a passionate and committed performance every time.
That said, each song does stand on its own. Recorded with Toby Lloyd of Wellington’s Tiny Triumph Recordings, the tasteful and evocative production has a warm, rich and well-blended sound. This is especially prominent on opener Plains Of Venus, a poetically penned heartbreak ballad which creates a sprawling, shimmering sonic landscape, laced with reverbed guitar loops and warm vocal harmonies, building gradually to a huge climax.
A lot of the lyrics are about the trials and tribulations of being a young adult in a modern world. Bryant displays a cynical but emotional tone, delivering some truly profound lyrics in getting to the heart of these issues.
“They say hide your soul, hide your soul,” she sings on The Cutlery. “Everybody’s meant to feel alone,” a sentiment that will surely resonate with many listeners. Her soul-shattering performance in the bridge of Birthday Girl is a highlight, as she screams the hard-hitting lyrics: “…even in the face of God your audience will kneel/ Patiently awaiting some grand truth he has concealed/ Only to discover just what makes this all so real/ You are looking at the Devil, and he wasn’t worth the deal.”
Closing track Dizzy provides some light relief. It’s a fun, upbeat pop song which turns the titular adjective into a deliciously catchy, melismatic vocal hook. In today’s music industry, it takes something unique to make it big. Judging by the strength of ‘Cider,’ it’s evident Danica Bryant has a bright future ahead of her.