Amanda Easton’s music career flourishes in her native Australia, but she’s experienced success abroad as well in a variety of venues and capacities. Her new EP release Drama and DooWops takes her away from the traditional electronic-oriented approach she adopts for her songwriting and, instead, dives into the past. Breathing life into popular music arrangements from the 1950s and retrofitting them for modern audiences will require a bit of magic to make it happen in a big way. It doesn’t seem to be Easton’s concern, however. A single listen to these six tracks bears out the idea that she sees these arrangements as the best possible way of communicating the sound she hears in her head for these specific cuts.
“Dog Eared Drama” definitely turns back the clock to an earlier time without sounding like a relic. Where music with retro influences stands apart from their modern counterparts in song is the echoes of traditional music in their arrangements and Easton shows a sure hand in summoning the music of a long-gone time. The reverb on the guitar, well-recorded drums, and accompanying organ, however excellent they are, compares next to the vocal that Easton brings to the table. It’s a torrent of emotion, expertly sung, and sounds like it feeds off the excellence around her.
“My Pick-Me-Up” is another highlight of the EP. Easton’s arrangement for the song runs through a handful of textures and the song is arguably at its most arresting when it takes on an up-tempo pace. Easton’s penchant for telling imagery in the lyrics of her songs works well for her here. “Girl in the Sky Blue Ballgown” is a hypnotizing and passionate tune. It definitely ranks among the best on the six-track EP and doesn’t risk sinking into melodrama despite its luxurious arrangement. It has a much deeper effect on listeners, as well, than it relatively limited running time may imply.
“Floral Dress” has a similar pace. It isn’t quite as dense with sonic detail, however, and the contrasting approaches are welcome despite sharing a portion of the same page. It sets up the last song quite well. Segueing from the relaxed yet confident tapestry of “Floral Dress” into the equally relaxed, yet textually as different as night and day, “Before the Coffee Got Cold” makes for compelling listening. Easton certainly deserves props for a fully believable rendering of one facet of the doowop style while still utilizing it as a way to communicate something about her life. It’s been the model for this brief song collection thus far and ends it in a solid fashion.
Drama and DooWops deserves to be mentioned among Amanda Easton’s finest work so far. Showing the confidence to venture so far afield of her typical songwriting demonstrates a curiosity in her that should continue to benefit her future releases. It certainly makes this one among the most memorable releases of the year and it’s an EP that you can listen to again and again without exhausting its value.