Adena Atkins – The Slowest Curve

Adena Atkins’ debut EP, The Slowest Curve, is an even combination of poetry and musical experimentation. Often times, bands will create songs and then add lyrics as a means of supplementary direction. This is especially evident when the lyrics are read or analyzed in the absence of music; riddled with ambiguity and a lack of direction without necessary key changes to provide any sort of context. And then you have Adena Atkins, who writes poems, supplemented instead with music that seems to be used more for lyrical emphasis than for any structural purpose. Sure, it’s a subtlety: lyrics first and music second. But if you really want to connect with this EP in a meaningful way, you might consider viewing it under a “different light.”

The production is rock-solid. Nothing is buried and all of the levels are pretty even. The keyboard parts are soft and create an ethereal and lullaby-like feel to each of the songs. Whenever vocal effects are added, they are always very tastefully done and the “fine-line” is never crossed. The mixes have a “wide-open” feel to them; you never have to strain your ears to hear a specific instrument. The drums were executed perfectly and you’ll notice that the drum beats are always tasteful and dynamically sound. The vocals were captured with incredible clarity and they never come close to feeling abrasive, which allows the listener to become immersed in each song free from distraction.

Any “weaknesses” in this album are limited to context with which they are viewed under, as pretty much anything and everything on it feels very intentional. Structurally, all of these songs are just as linear as anything you’d expect from any pop song. The songs aren’t going to get crazy or take an unexpected turn. But again, these potential weaknesses by any other standard are irrelevant when you focus on what she’s trying to convey and how she’s trying to do it. At times, the vocals can be a little too emotive and dramatic, which could make it hard to take some of the lyrical content seriously. These moments can leave you under the impression that you might be listening to a musical or theatrical performance instead of an EP, but again this is an atypical EP. And the music is nothing to glance over, either. When applied, the melodies are gorgeous. Each instrumental harmony is not only appropriate but totally necessary and always a delight.

All in all, The Slowest Curve is a very cool and very unique perspective on how to make a record. You aren’t going to find many people who use their music as a platform to tell a story, which makes this album feel especially refreshing. Adena is a capable artist and obviously comfortable enough in her own skin to explore some pretty intimate lyrical content within the boundaries of some very lovely melodies. You’d be hard pressed to find another record that sounds like this, so give it a try. You just might like it.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Album name: The Slowest Curve
Release Date: December, 2011
Location: Seattle, WA
Genre(s): indie, pop, electronic, impressionist
Members: Adena Atkins
Produced by Jay Pinto

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