February 14 is Valentine’s Day. Guys, don’t forget. It’s a day all about romance and relationships, so it only makes sense the on the day that is all about those topics, KB & The Idyllwilde will release its new EP I Just Wanna Love You, I Just Wanna Let You. The five-song record’s lyrical themes are all about relationships and romance, and are collectively just one part of what makes the 21-minute EP that listeners will *ahem* love. Yes, that awful pun was intended. The musical arrangements at the center of the record add to its appeal in their own way and will be addressed later. The record’s production plays its own important part to the whole of the record, too. When it is considered alongside the EP’s overall content, it makes the whole of the recording a work that is a good musical backing for couples on Valentine’s Day and any day.
KB & The Idyllwilde’s new EP I Just Wanna Love You, I Just Wanna Let You is one of this year’s top new offerings in its field. That is due in no small part to its lyrical content. From start to end, the 21-minute recording features lyrics that are readily accessible for audiences across the board. Vocalist and band namesake Katie Burke (KB) addressed the EP’s lyrical themes in a recent interview upon the debut of the video for the record’s single ‘Drown.’ She said of the song’s theme and how it relates to the rest of the record’s songs, “It really sums up a big theme of the album – That anyone can get what they want in big, hard love. Some of us want love, some of us want power, and some of us want to give it away.”
This statement is supported right from the record’s outset in the EP’s lead single ‘Madman.’ Burke noted in an interview about that song’s video, “That pervasive waiting for the other shoe to drop feel was real strong in me at the time. The character in this song can’t accept love, They can’t see why anyone would stick around. They’re covered in their perception that people must be crazy to stand being around them. So, in the end, the character accepts that both she and this person must both be nuts for it all to work. Good news, it works! Bad news…is there bad news? They’re nuts? Yes, nuts and happy–Fun fact, I wasn’t satisfied with my vocal performance in the studio, so my producer Evan let me borrow a mic, and I tracked this in one take at home in my closet.”
‘Glories,’ the EP’s fourth track is yet another example of that central lyrical theme that runs through the record. Burke sings in this song, asking the guy, “are you gonna/Be my lover/Are you gonna/talk real nice.” She goes on from here putting out certain criteria for the man so to speak, but in a completely flirtatious fashion. There is even more flirtation as the song progresses. That additional flirtation adds to the song’s enjoyment. Simply put, the song is a good dance number that is just as accessible for that positive lyrical content as for its musical content.
Speaking of musical content, that content plays its own important part to the whole of the the EP’s presentation. What audiences get from this record, musically speaking, is a distinct variety of styles that at the same time are closely related in their history. The EP opens with a funky, blues-tinged composition in ‘Mad Man’ that even adds in a touch of country/bluegrass with the subtle inclusion of the violin/fiddle line. That arrangement is followed up with a more distinct southern rock style composition in ‘Drown.’ What’s important to note here is that while the style changes in the overall composition, that blues influence is still very much present. The composition in whole easily lends itself to comparisons to works from Janis Joplin, especially keeping in mind Burke’s vocal delivery style and sound. ‘Right Kind of Sickness’ again maintains that bluesy influence that is present in the EP’s first two songs. It also changes things up again, offering listeners more of a unique, southern rock sensibility than ‘Drown.’ That song – ‘Drown’ — throws back to, again, the likes of Janis Joplin while this song boasts a more up-to-date touch that is more akin to works from The Allman Brothers Band featured in its most recent records. ‘Glories’ changes things up even more, offering listeners an arrangement that is – in this critic’s ears and mind – the EP’s best musical work. One again, the blues influence is here. What is different is the rest of the composition. It boasts Dixieland influences, as well as some funk elements and again that bluegrass/country hint thanks to the fiddle/violin. The whole sounds like quite the oddity on the surface, but a close listen reveals it to be a unique work that really should have been the EP’s lead single and the record’s most notable entry. ‘Heart Faulty,’ the EP’s closer, maintains the blues trend that runs throughout the record, but again Burke and company change things up in the bigger picture, ensuring once more that engagement and entertainment for listeners. The arrangement here instantly lends itself to comparisons to The Animals’ timeless classic ‘House of the Rising Sun,’ yet still manages to maintain its own identity along the way. That the group was able to balance that influence (whether intentional or not) while also giving the composition its own identity speaks volumes to the group’s talents and creativity. It is just one more way in which the EP’s musical content proves itself just as important to its presentation as its lyrical content. When that collective musical and lyrical content is considered in whole, the result overall is a work that substantively speaking, is a powerful offering from KB & The Idyllwilde. Of course the impact of that collective content would not be what it is without the work put into the record’s production.
The production of I Just Wanna Love You, I Just Wanna Let You deserves its own share of attention because of the impact that it helps each song have on listeners. The dynamic changes in ‘Heart Faulty’ is one example of the importance of that production. Throughout the song, the dynamics rise and fall throughout, illustrating clearly, the emotion in the lyrics. Burke’s vocals are expertly balanced with the subtleties in the percussion and guitar lines to make the whole work such a strong presentation. Those behind the boards are to be commended especially here for making this song so hard-hitting. The same can be said of the balance in the more upbeat arrangement at the heart of ‘Glories.’ There is a lot going on in this song between the drums, the horns, the guitars, fiddle/violin and all of the vocal lines. Yet again, those responsible for the record’s production (and mixing) put a lot of time and work into balancing all of those elements. That work paid off tenfold here, with the result at times conjuring thoughts of some of Ben Harper’s best works. At no point does any one line outweigh the others, again a tribute to those responsible for assembling the lines into one whole. Much the same can be said of the production at the heart of ‘Drown.’ Getting just the right distortion from the guitar here and balancing that with Burke’s equally gritty vocal delivery had to have taken some time and effort. That time and effort paid off here just as much as the work put into making the EP’s other songs so infectious and accessible. Keeping this in mind, it should be clear why the production involved in the creation of I Just Wanna Love You, I Just Wanna Let You is just as important to address as the record’s overall content. When that content is considered along with the work that went into making all that content one whole, that collective becomes a whole that is one of this year’s early picks for any critic’s list of the year’s top new EPs.
KB & The Idyllwilde’s new EP I Just Wanna Love You, I Just Wanna Let You is an easy, early candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new EPs. That is thanks in no small part to the record’s easily accessible and relatable lyrical content. That content couples with the record’s equally accessible and entertaining musical content to strengthen its presentation that much more. The consideration of the importance of the record’s production strengthens that presentation even more, and couples with the record’s content to make the EP that much more appealing for listeners. All things considered, they make this latest effort from KB & The Idyllwilde a work that is its own wonderful work that audiences will appreciate not just on Valentine’s Day, but year-round. More information on I Just Wanna Love You, I Just Wanna Let You is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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