Cozi and Flounder’s debut The Place is a deceptively simple release. Ezra and his daughter Cozi Vancil are revisiting the same musical magic they discovered during the writing and recording Ezra’s The Family Songbook. It’s more concentrated here, however, and the spotlight falls on the pair more than ever before, but they are fortunate to rely on a first-class cadre of supporting musicians to realize the songs. They are outwardly small and musically modest affairs. The Vancils refrain from adding ostentatious instrumental touches, the sound is folk-inspired throughout, and listeners will be hard-pressed identifying any holes in the song construction. It’s minimalist, without a doubt, but nonetheless fully realized.
The slow, lackadaisical beat underpinning the opener “No One Can Take Away” has the effect of carrying listeners into a dream. They further accentuate that effect with their vocals while still focusing a great deal on phrasing and melody. It’s an impressive feat. Covering all their bases with a musically sound and dramatic approach sets them apart from other acts in this vein and the chiseled quality of the lyrics is another positive. There isn’t a wasted word in any of the EP’s songs.
“Misty Girl” is a high point and outstanding follow-up. It’s always a challenge for performers working in this style to avoid the coy preciousness afflicting some practitioners of the form. “Misty Girl”, however, is anything but cutesy or superficially “pretty”. One of the biggest attributes of the duo’s songs is the way they sound summoned into being rather than composed. It is as if the Vancils plucked them from an invisible ether and gave them aural form.
They are, in turns, playful and affectionate during the track “Tiny Boat”. It has a loose sort of wobble powering the song, a relaxed amble that casts a warm spell over listeners. The familiar vocal interplay established with the first song continues here, but the arrangement differs from other cuts. It has a much more unvarying texture but never threatens to bore listeners. It’s notable how Cozi and Flounder manage to mix things up for listeners despite the “limited” sound and brief duration of the release.
“Some Angels” carries the EP to greater heights than ever before. The chorus is especially memorable thanks to Cozi Vancil’s stellar vocal. It doesn’t diminish, however, Ezra’s importance as an equally evocative counterweight to her voice. Cozi, nevertheless, is the undisputed highlight of this track for me. The title song is a sort of summation of everything preceding it and several elements set it apart.
The gradual build of the song never overstates its case. It’s patient instead, the guitar playing rating among the EP’s best, and eventually transforms into the EP’s final full-throated outpouring. The final song on The Place is an acoustic rendition of the opener. “No One Can Take Away” remains as strong as ever in this stripped-down incarnation and it better highlights the pair’s vocal chemistry. It’s a graceful punctuation mark ending Cozi and Flounder’s EP, but they will be back. They’ve struck musical gold in this form.
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