Thursday, February 4, 2016

Must listen: Eryn Allen Kane - Aviary: Act II

Imagine this. You're a struggling musician posting demos on Soundcloud when one day, out of the blue, Prince gets in touch. He likes your stuff. He wants you to come to Paisley Park. He wants you on his new song. A song that's his personal response to the killing of Freddie Gray. Oh, and he'd like to you perform it on stage with him in Baltimore.

Well, that's what happened to Eryn Allen Kane.

"He [Prince] really wants to see young talented artists thrive," she told Essence. "He tells me to stay true to myself even though my music isn’t the type of music that’s being played on the radio all the time it’s important for people to hear it. He’s like, it’s up to you to be authentic and stay true to who you are at all costs because that is going to give you a long career."

Eryn isn't working with Prince on her solo material - perhaps realising that his obsessive studio etiquette frequently suffocates collaborators - but he would undoubtedly approve of the results. Her new EP, Aviary II, is real soul, with real passion, played by real musicians on real instruments.

The 26-year-old, who once enrolled at the Detroit School of the Arts because Aaliyah went there, wears her influences on her sleeve. You can hear Marvin, Erykah, Mariah and, naturally, Prince in her phrasing and orchestration. And the political overtones are still there on How Many Times - pointedly released on Martin Luther King day - which expresses her frustration at America's cycle of violence: "How many lives do we have to give up?" she asks over a portentous piano phrase.

But the real highlight is her voice - persistently incredible, whether she's angry, lovelorn or full of fiery passion (listen to the last 30 seconds of Honey - it's like Aretha never went away).

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