A refreshing blast from the past, English folk artist Millie Manders’s EP “Demon” reminds us of how music used to be, with an uplifting five-track record that radiates sassiness, with just a small touch of sentiment.
With the title track touching on the subject of unreciprocated love, Manders shows her softer, more emotional side, before breaking into a more emphatic and catchy musical style in tracks that just make you want to dance and groove along with the rhythms, such as “Raw”, which features a subject matter based in sex, and “Mr. Stupid”, about an overconfident and selfish man.
A particularly impressive aspect of this EP is Manders’s vocal work throughout the record. Not only is she really talented, but she flaunts her abilities with flair and soul that adds to the captivating effect demonstrated in many of her tracks. Her harmonies were also well-planned and finely executed, displaying her knowledge of her musical style and how to increase its quality, an attribute that’s most notable in “Demon” as it adds an emotional, almost haunting quality to the track.
This ability to be both emphatic and calm demonstrates her diversity as a vocalist and her capability to adapt to themes and styles of many varieties. An interesting quality of her vocals, as well, is the presence of her strong accent.
When many artists from the UK sing, their accents seem to disappear; however, hers is quite evident, and it provides an addition to the uniqueness and ethnicity of her sound. All of these vocal qualities combine with her capability to add a grizzly, raw sound to her voice, most noticeably in “Sick”, a quality that distinguishes her from many other female musicians.
The instrumental performance was also very well-done throughout this EP. Simple, yet catchy rhythms were fantastically implemented in order to set the tone for each track and match the theme. There wasn’t any showing off or reduction via the instrumentation in a single aspect of any song, and everything was well balanced and perfectly in time. The urge to dance that one can get from listening to this EP is generated mainly from the instrumental work, which is very folksy and fun for the majority of the record, only ever changing the tone when Manders did and maintaining perfect sync with her.
A large part of this can be attributed to the production of this record, which was done perfectly. All instruments are well balanced and match Manders’s vocals. There is no distortion or production lapses, and the harmonies are mixed into the tracks flawlessly.
Millie Manders is an incredibly clever lyricist who is able to make her lyrics just as catchy as her rhythms. However, a few criticisms can be made regarding the lyrics she chose. For example, in “Thoroughbred Potato Head” and “Sick”, there appear to be many fillers with her use of “la-la-la” and “bah-dada-da”, though she was able to use these to further establish the bouncy, catchy tones to her tracks. In some cases, her lyrics can cause a little bit of confusion, as predominantly seen in “Thoroughbred Potato Head”.
The phrase “potato head” has a variety of meanings: it can either be someone whose head is shaped like a potato or someone who doesn’t think ahead or make plans, as well as act as a racial slur towards Irishman. Ironically, all three meanings would work for the song, but the question remains as to which one she was really referring. Perhaps the lyrics of this song could have been better chosen to somehow suit her meaning.
With her enriched vocal stylings, catchy rhythms, subject diversity, and sassy attitude, Millie Manders provides her listeners with an energetic brand of folk music that was quite common and popular in earlier decades. Though I feel she will have many fans, most likely from the older generation, I fear for her and her talents, as this type of music is not as popular or profitable as it would have been in the 70s or 80s.
Regardless, I hope that she will continue to create this brand of dancey, energetic, articulate music and that she will not let the music industry influence who she is musically or her passion for expressing herself in this art form. Folk fans, this is definitely a record to pick up and enjoy, but be prepared to swing your hips and sing along.
Instrumental Performance: 10/10
OVERALL RATING: 9.3/10
The ‘Demon’ EP is available to buy on iTunes now
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