Whether or not this EP is as gentle as its name suggests is entirely up to the listener. On the one hand, the music of this Oshawa-based bedroom pop musician doesn’t aim to be loud with its fusion of keys and guitars. But on the other hand, closer listening to the music will reveal a ghostly, even sinister undertone.
The duality of the title seems to suggest this. “Persuasion” can be achieved through many different means. Just looking at titles, though, won’t get you very far. With innocuous song titles like “Tangerines” and “Maple” this might sound like a folk album.
“Bird’s Nest” opens the EP with an immediate wave of electronic noise and organs combined with guitars, with the two sets of sound seemingly trading places in the musical foreground and background several times in the song. The vocals are sometimes a little hard to make out, but at one point you can hear the phrases “You sit on my chest every night/Suffocating me with your needs.”
The strongest song on the EP comes next with “Maple.” The organ takes precedence in this one, with the guitar providing a solid backbone. The melodic pace is slightly quicker, adding a sense of urgency and, frankly, spookiness. It gets even eerier when you listen to the lyrics, such as the refrain: “She asked to be ashes.” The song even ends on an unsettling note, with several deafening seconds of silence.
“Tangerines” brings things down a peg to a more mellow tempo, actually beginning with just guitar. The separation of it from the keys allows a bit of room to breathe, so to speak, before keys come in around the 30-second mark. The song seems to be about doing everything possible for someone you love, only to get nothing in return. The chorus has Defne singing “Because I jump over hurdles, I do backflips and I/Carve my cheekbones for you/I do it all and you shrug me off/Til I just mean nothing at all.”
Finally there’s “Climb Out My Window,” which begins with a quick, distorted bit of guitar strumming laid over another guitar line. The absence of keys somehow makes the track even dreamier-sounding than the other three, and this is thanks to Defne’s vocals that are perfectly suited to the bedroom music she creates, kind of like Memoryhouse’s Denise Nouvion on the Guelph duo’s The Years EP.
For all its minimalism, Gentle Persuasion is a little record that may leave a big impact.
Top Track: “Maple”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)