With a glamorous sway that slowly becomes more indulgent as the music around the beats starts to grow in size, “Burning Journals” comes flooding from the stereo and instantly fills the air around us with a warmth that most pop music can’t muster. Brooke Josephson begins to sing, her voice stained with a hesitance that is both endearing and telling of the mood beyond her lyrical narrative in this swanky track from Live & Let Live, her latest EP (which also shares its title – save the ampersand – with her 2013 debut album). In this song, much as the case is with its tracklist predecessor
“No for an Answer,” harmony and heroic grooves work together to lead us down the rabbit hole and inside the mind of an artist who isn’t afraid to bear her soul to us if it means making a bold statement with her songcraft, the best of which may well be found in the six songs that comprise this wickedly intriguing extended play. Whether it be the supple swing of the drums or the tuneful glow of the vocal linchpin, Live & Let Live is always expressive, even when it would have been more commercially viable for its creator to stick with a streamlined formula than she did.
“No for an Answer” is the most radio-ready track of this set, but it isn’t the only potential single that this record could produce. In the adult contemporary-style “Eye in the Sky,” Josephson takes her rightful place atop strands of a layered guitar melody as steeped in folky cues as it is light pop pleasantries. It’s not quite as impressive a groove ballad as “Good Kinda Tired” is, but let’s face it, not very many songs could be; right from the get-go, this track features a beat that our singer seems to conform her vocal to within winks of making contact with it around the eight-second mark.
There’s nothing but confidence in her execution, and even though her backing band occasionally comes close to overtaking their leading lady with the tidal wave-like thwack of scooped harmonies at one point in the song, they never succeed at totally drowning out its most potent force to be reckoned with.
Although the centerpiece here is the title cut, my favorite song from this EP is “All We Never Had,” and if you’re wondering why, simply give its first ninety seconds a superficial listen at max volume. There’s so much energy in the play, so much excitement in the way that they broach the climactic points in the track, and yet they never overstate any of the subtleties of this singer’s sound in the course of this steady jam. It’s largely archetypal of the spirit that you’ll hear in every song here, and more importantly, I think it tells us a lot about who Brooke Josephson is.
She’s a gifted and amiable singer/songwriter looking to make a name for herself in an age of American indie pop that is perhaps more competitive than any other before it, but with material like this upholding her already highly credible moniker, adding to her core audience won’t be difficult at all.