“Who are you?” sings Auckland singer-songwriter Mackensie Grace Clayton on the title track of her debut EP, ‘Our Night’. “And who do you want to be?” This line is apt coming from her vivid, technicoloured introduction to the world. Over six tracks ‘Our Night’ melds jazz, soul, funk, rock and pop with the emotional ballad style Clayton has refined over the years, and which still lies at the heart of her songwriting.
An extremely proficient vocalist, her delivery is dynamic and fully emotionally invested, ranging from smooth and sultry soft vocals to a powerful belt. Slick, highly professional production by Olly Harmer at The Lab Studio supports her vocals and songwriting well. Each song is filled with dynamic instrumental arrangements and warm, lush harmonies adding an evocative ambience to Clayton’s sound.
Lead single Green opens the project with a colourful bang. This punchy pop-rock track is explosive and full of sass, lyrically addressing uneven power dynamics in a relationship, and a taking back of the reins from her partner. “It’s my turn in the driver’s seat, at least I know how to get you there,” Clayton sings in the huge, anthemic bridge. “Gonna change around here, let me tell you it’s the year of me.” Later on, she adds a cheeky, “Tell me you like my music, tell me I’m right.”
Green is followed by the piano-based pop/soul of See Me, a widely dynamic track that details attempts at seducing a potential lover. “Baby, look behind me if you dare,” she sings in the chorus. “I’ll be waiting there, me and my golden hair.”
Relying more on the simple strength of her voice, All At Once is a standout moment – a deceptively simple piano ballad about falling for someone. “You could break me (break my heart, break my heart)” Clayton sings over and over again in the song’s hypnotic chorus, “You can make me (make my love, make my love).” Final Days is a sensual ballad with a highly memorable chorus professing undying love. Fall continues in a similar vein to the previous two songs, the lyrics once again about a partner. “I’m falling for you, falling from you, falling apart,” she sings in the song’s chorus, which is hypnotic in a similar vein to All At Once.
‘Our Night’ closes out with the and title track, a slow-building piano ballad that brings the EP to a huge climax of the soul-bearing, ‘standing-on-a-cliff face-screaming-at-the-sky’ kind. “Who are you? Who do you want to be? Who do you turn to? Can it be me?”