Tone is everything in a singer/songwriter effort, and it’s undeniably one of the strongest guiding lights to behold in the new EP Tonight There Might Be Stars from Karen Turner. Where a lot of other players in her scene would be leaning on sophisticated compositional wit to tell us a story, Turner is relying on her melodic disposition to illustrate emotionality in songs like “Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway” and “Wish I Could Just Stop By.” There’s seemingly no limit to her depth in a few of these performances, and to me, hers is certainly one of the most important required listens in indie-folk this summer.
The harmonies in “Jacaranda,” “Blue Mind,” and “If the World is Ending” are impossibly haunting, and this isn’t because of an elaborate instrumental concept. I think that Turner can make a lot more out of the minimalistic arrangements in Tonight There Might Be Stars than she ever would have a more elaborate formula for songcraft, and there’s an argument to be made that one of her best attributes as a singer is her ability to turn something relatively black and white into a source of charisma, melodic vitality, and otherwise unsuspecting inspiration.
Karen Turner’s unabashed lyrical reflection in “Blue Mind” and “Wish I Could Just Stop By” does a lot to set the tone for the entire tracklist, and although it’s certainly identifiable as personal, it’s also commentarial to an extent of being relatable to the passerby.
You don’t have to be invested in the hook to pick up on the personality in this music, which is not always the case when studying independent talent coming out of the underground, the vast majority of it fashioned in a way that is meant to get as much attention from the mainstream market as possible.
“Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway” and “If the World is Ending” sport poetic humility that I wouldn’t normally expect to encounter in a release from a performer as self-aware and skillful with a verse as Turner is, but then again, this is just another spot where she’s setting herself apart from the numerous contemporaries she’s competing with in and outside of the American underground at the moment. Most of her peers aren’t willing to take the chances that she does here, and it’s all the more reason to expect a lot of potent content out of her camp in the near future as well.
Tonight There Might Be Stars is quite the stunning effort from a singer/songwriter most definitely on the rise in her genre, and if you haven’t taken the time to sit down with it just yet this June, now might be the right moment to give it a spin. Inside of five songs, this tracklist bewitches us with a melodic sting that I wish I could find more of across the FM dial in 2022, but its rarity might make this all the more enchanting to the unassuming ear. All in all, Karen Turner is a must-watch player whose new EP is too good to pass up.
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