Pop music as an art-form is one facet of music that never seems to die out. Though the faces change frequently, there are always mainstream fans that are willing to listen. The problem with the style now is that most of the singers and artists all sound the same, churning out cookie-cutter versions of basically the same inoffensive tune over and over again. Along comes Canadian-born singer/songwriter Claudia Norris and on her third EP recording Shine, she showcases that she has some tricks that the others might not have.
First of all, she pushes a seriously DIY aesthetic by writing her own material, posting it to YouTube herself and generally taking control of her creative fate from step 1. That’s a hard to find commodity in today’s fragmented scene and her music benefits from it greatly. There’s a lot of heart in the way she carries her career which translates into the music of the ear catching, lead-in track “Tonight.” Glossed with a bumping techno d & b background, the music toys with textures and advanced production techniques for an independent artist. The studio sheen tastefully bolsters Norris’ already tuneful voice with echo and fade, while guitars and a bass-y foundation keep the blood pumping.
“Tonight” is just one personality of Norris’ sound though and the title track uses largely traditional instrumentation (guitar, bass, and drums) for the creation of a pop-affected, alt-radio hit that has a hooky chorus that’s instantly a keeper. Claudia exercises an impressive vocal range throughout with breathy whispers giving way to some contralto rise/fall dynamics. The closer “Sunny Afternoon” is also cut from the same cloth but mixes in acoustic and slide guitars along with a country drawl to Norris’ vocal delivery. It walks a fine line between pop, rock and country for a sound that could easily draw in fans of all three styles. Of all the cuts “Marry you” is the easiest going, breeziest, downplayed of the four with shimmering acoustics melded to staccato, almost rap-oriented beats and silky vocal magic… Despite the indulgence into the digitized side of the recording/instrumental tracks, the vocals are honest and delivered without too many touch ups and you can tell that Norris is a natural at providing dreamy, pop goddess melodies. While the other tunes are all well-done in their own right, “Marry you” and its noticeable difference from the other pieces and slower, more deliberate tempos make it stand out the most.
Shine will appeal to fans that like pop/rock with great songwriting and a fantastic singer that can really make you feel the same emotions that she does as she sings the material. There is nothing to crunch your brain over here and the songwriting while solid is a bit cut and dry by pop standards but the care that Claudia Norris puts into her vocals, songwriting and presentation of her material helps make the difference and is thusly well-worth checking out for fans looking for sing-a-long anthems draped in positivity. Hopefully, her next release will be a full-length album that breaks her into pop’s upper echelon because she can easily surpass the competition out there.
8 out of 10 stars.
– Joshua Stryde