How do you describe “Promise me you’ll stay long enough to hear this,” the debut EP of American artist Monica Whitlock? At times delving into the old-fashioned rock and rolls with occasional bursts of pop and tinged with Americana attitude, the EP is a melodic and thoughtful record that looks to the past and the future. As stated in her press release, the project serves as a letter to her inner child. After she has endured various traumas resulting in a suicide attempt, the artist reflects on the child she once was and empathized with her.
From the opening bars of the first track, ‘Parchment paper,’ we’re clearly witnessing a class act. Monica Whitlock has a sweet, clear voice, and allied with the top-notch soft guitar, each track shines. With country, indie, and pop as evident influences, the songs are always led by Whitlock’s vocals and guitar-led stylings. If the songs are diverse in sound, then the constant is the vocal power that Monica brings to every piece. And why wouldn’t you play to your strengths when you have a sweet voice that sounds like it could hold its own without a microphone in a crowded bar?
‘Anymore’ is reflective and thoughtful throughout, where the artist sings, “You know I don’t miss you, anymore/ You know I don’t need you, like before /You said the roads are clearer on the other side/ You shut the lights off when the states divide/ And I’ll fall asleep without you/ Cus I’m better off without you,” against a playful guitar melody, with strings building as the song reaches its climax.
‘Marilyn Monroe’ has an air of sad resignation. The atmosphere, instrumentals, and vocal arrangements are incredibly effective in creating a gloomy mood. The track is genuinely a lovely piece of writing, with a fantastic sense of longing palpable. It feels that ‘Marilyn Monroe’ gives a different feel to the EP due to Whitlock’s vocal interpretation.
On my account, ‘Jack+Rose’ and ‘March 1997’ are majestic. The first one is a dream track with incredible instrumentation, and Monica’s voice sounds so pure. The upbeat nature of the track perfectly conveys the somewhat angsty lyrics that seem to turn the sad atmosphere into a magnificent and breezy perspective.
After this, we are taken on a strident journey of addiction, where Monica sings, “Sometimes I get high and think of us again, but even then/I’ll drink myself to sleep/Fast asleep.” The track takes a darker and almost Nick-Cave-style vibe while describing depression; “I’ll lock you into the brain cells of my memory/You see the demons inside my being like to consume me the key is my trauma and my awkward bruise my bones.”
It’s a dynamic and turbulent ride that brings us back down gently with a serene outro. Throughout the EP, the 25-year-old BIPOC singer-songwriter demonstrates her ability to capture and overcome difficult situations with an immense depth of sensitivity. At the same time, her narrative vocals bring gravitas will exceptionally well-worn skill. Everything is just wonderful about this track, and you’ll find yourself asking for more.
Produced by Shannon McArthur and licensed by Fueled By Passion, ultimately, “Promise me you’ll stay long enough to hear this” has plenty of high points, which may vary based on taste. Amazingly, whatever music you may be into, Monica Whitlock‘s songwriting talents and vocals ensure that there is something to appeal to. Most definitely an artist to keep watching.
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