There’s a closeness about Emma Citrine’s Shadowless. The Vancouver artist’s self-described “sad sounds” are delivered in soft tones and Citrine sounds nearly breathless – like she’s run home and recorded the songs before the sting of her emotions dissipated.
Each of the EP’s six tracks are over four minutes long. These songs are lengthy examinations of the self or the situation at hand. A past love is often mourned. Citrine sits at a piano or with her guitar in hand and gently plays her chosen notes with care. The tender touches of “Rei’s Song,” for example, feel purposeful like the soundscape is meant to swaddle and comfort. It’s certainly a different approach than the one she took on her debut 2016 release Sad Surprise – a bluesy-rock affair.
The EP is bookended with warm and intimate piano-based tracks marked by Citrine’s moving vocal performances. “Accidents,” the opening track, builds slowly, leading up to Citrine’s passionate repeated cries of “to lift you up” and then her impressive vocal runs during the final minute ushers out the song. “Misbehave” rises and falls with Citrine’s guitar loops. It’s a smart sonic effect that makes her description of how hard it can be to be honest with yourself (“through the endless sea of blue into the horror of the truth”) that much more breathtaking.
“Taste the Devil” is an eight minute epic about that voice in your head (spurred on by anxiety and/or depression) that tells you lies about yourself. The track’s steady beat mirrors the carefully weighted words Citrine has chosen to explain the torturous state that this voice (the devil) can put you in: “despite my best efforts, I cannot maintain even one conversation not ironically placing the blame on the old me.” It’s a downer track and despite what she thinks is going on when she’s around them, the presence of Citrine’s friends is heartening. They will never give up on her.
Shadowless is a meandering meditation on love and loss but Citrine guides you gently around each turn and keeps your attention.
Top Track: “Taste The Devil”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)