8Tracks Review: ‘Mangoes’ EP by Amy Ahn

Before we knew it, we were flying

Amy Ahn’s three-song EP dropped June 1.  The classical harpist with harp performance degrees from UCLA and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee blends genres in a poppy-jazzy-r&b style.   In an interview with & Strings, she says,

If I’m going through something and feel like there are truths that need to be heard in this world, I like putting it in the form of a song. I put together a three song EP, very very small but quality wise very very big and put a lot of heart and effort into it.

Every song is really different. So if I were to describe it sonically, the groove is like Emily King, the soul is like Corrine Bailey Rae, my voice wilts a lot, and my classical background comes out with a string quartet that plays in one of the songs, which I’m super excited about.


What’s a girl got to do?

  1. Never Thought I’d Be (5:03)
  2. Bird’s Eye View (2:58)
  3. Mangoes (3:50)

An ocean full of ideas unheard

Most immediately notable is Amy’s voice, which reminds me most of Karen Peris’s sweetness combined with Norah Jones’s sultriness.  It’s very breathy, sometimes distractingly so, in the way that many contemporary folk-influenced singer-songwriters are breathy, only breathier.  What sets Amy apart is her vocal style, which leans heavily on r&b sensibilities but with an admirable jazz vocal attack.  I imagine her laying down vocal melodies and deciding they weren’t challenging enough, because she seldom takes the easy vocal path getting from here to there.  It’s pretty refreshing, and it’s refreshingly pretty.

“Bird’s Eye View” opens with just vocals and a harp, something else you don’t hear much of in pop-inflected music, and it compares nicely with the intros to the other tracks, which open with just vocals and acoustic guitar, the much more common approach.  All three songs develop into rather complex multi-instrumental arrangements.  The layering is really nice; I especially appreciated some nice piano coloring in “Mangoes,” and a weird, fascinating, oscillating industrial sound I can’t identify at about the :55 mark in “Bird’s Eye View.”

If there’s a lyrical theme, it’s “I used to be that, but now I’m this.”  If I have one complaint, it’s that the mix doesn’t leave enough room for Amy’s lyrics, making them difficult to understand in places, especially “Bird’s Eye View.”  I’m not sure, but I think she actually uses the lyric, “never thought I’d be in like with you” in “Never Thought I’d Be,” a phrase I’ve always favored but don’t remember hearing in a song.

“Mangoes” is the best song, musically and lyrically, so if you’re in a hurry start there.  Otherwise, put the whole EP in your earbuds on repeat for a few spins or a few days.

Rating: 7/10

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About Mitchell K. Dwyer

@scrivener likes movies.
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