Caroline Duke - 'Lovers And Madmen' EP Review
1. Everytime You Walk Away
3. The Night Is Only Yours
5. Can Never Go Back
Doing reviews for 3 Songs & Out is good fun. I'll often send in reviews for albums I've ordered from PledgeMusic or Bandcamp as well as music that i get sent to pass judgement on. Occasionaly, the editor likes to throw me a curveball.
"Do you fancy something a bit different?" he asked. Sure, why not? My tastes are pretty darn varied.
In a few minutes the curveball arrived in my inbox, a download of a five song EP by Caroline Duke hailing from Sweden. I grabbed the songs, loaded them onto my phone and got ready to give them a listen.
"Lovers and Madmen" is a subtle slice of Electro Pop. Opener 'Everytime You Walk Away' smoulders with strings and light percussion, Caroline's voice sitting comfortably in the mix. It doesn't sound too far removed from Lana Del Ray (complete with a f- bomb, not for shock value but more from frustration) as the songs narrator sings "I can't find my way out of here/I break down everytime you walk away/How could I ever forgive".
There's a nice sense of intimacy to her voice set against huge soundscape washes of the songs, recalling Lindi Ortega (an alternative country singer) on 'Silence'. She uses a good range of her voice, comfortable in lower registers on the verse whilst changing up a key for the choruses which help with the build.
'The Night Is Only Yours' relies on piano and subtle Brian Eno sounding guitar parts adding colour to the song, it's chorus making me think of what Motown would have sounded like if The Edge from U2 had a hand in it.
'Forever' takes elements of the previous songs and combines them into a slow, gentle ballad that allows Caroline too show what her voice is capable of without having to resort to the vocal gymnastics made popular by some woman singers. She has a range and uses it where it needs to service the song, not to show off.
Closing song 'Can Never Go Back' comes across as quite sombre but then chorus lifts the tone without breaking the mood the song has worked hard to build. It's not forced, building itself to a gentle, defiant climax.
There's a sense of theatre and drama to her songs that work well in her favour. The EP works well as a whole but would need some variation to break things up for an album. The grandiose nature of her voice and lyrics hang well on the bare, subtle nature of her music. It would be interesting to see how she would fare given a good push and backing of as her talent sits comfortably amongst that of her major label peers. As long as they don't force any big changes they could nurture some huge things for her.
Website - www.carolineduke.net
Review - Scott Hamilton