You might, with good reason, question whether the world needs another white café-diva with a damaged croon. Well, something’s gotta wash the taste of “Tom’s Diner” out of our mouths, right?
Now, without question, the voice, inspiration and execution are all there in full force on the debut EP Richmond from Shortly, a la Detroit, Michigan. At times she’ll remind you of Cat Power and at times she’ll remind you of Sharon Van Etten, without either one’s annoying habits of getting too personal or dwelling too long on one topic or portion of a song. The initial guitar strums in “Finders Keepers” right away gave me a great autumnal feel, a sensation I for some reason always equate with twee pop and the Pains-of-being-Pure-at-Heart vibe that Shortly perfects on this album opener. To her songwriting credit, then, “While We’re on the Subject” has a majestic way of sort of dissipating into oblivion following the brief, confusing lyrical plaint of “Parts of me felt warm / Parts of me felt cold”. The tapestry then beautifully unfurls of a little mini-piano-duet which almost seems to languid and intuitively nervous to be real, before snapping back to the grid of ambient trap-pop, showing off Shortly’s genre versatility on this albeit brief project.
Unfortunately, after the beautiful “Two,” “Anyone Else” thrusts things firmly all over again into the realm of stylistic stasis, like all this girl has done for the last three years is smoke weed and listen to Sharon Van Etten’s Epic. “Anyone Else” is saved by an energetic and refreshingly personal chorus of “For yooooouuuu / ‘Cause you asked me to”, so the real error here on this tiny project would be sequencing it right next to “Two,” which is almost the exact same kind of song, really. All in all, I sure hope somebody finds it in them to help this girl have some fun once in a while (seeing as she lives in Detroit that might be a challenge) and maybe even scare up some bandmates, because she can really sing and construct a tune.