True musical artistry comes hard to master. You have to be a storyteller, a painter of vivid pictures and a sculptor of sounds. Many great artists study and acknowledge those who came before them and use it as inspiration to do so and tread the contemporary path ahead.
A student of the music of old, Kara Marni takes great inspiration from music of the 80’s, having been raised on the likes of Minnie Riperton from a very young age, and that passion has propelled her artistry.
While still at its infancy, her career has taken major leaps and bounds, all culminating up to this point. Releasing her EP just before the buzz of New Music Friday, Kara Marni’s first official stake at the music game, her debut EP Love Just Ain’t Enough is an ode to the past and the present.
From the offset, you can just tell that you will be treated to something that differs from what’s currently on the airwaves. The opener, “Golden”, is without doubt, one of my favourite songs on the EP and it was my own personal introduction to her as an artist.
Eccentric in terms of production, layers of 80’s synths, violins and adlibs come together to create something indefinitely timeless yet indefinitely current. Finding yourself lost somewhere within a daydream utopia, Marni paints an almost idealistic picture of love, one beyond imagination. It is that special place or feeling where love it’s all beautiful and it’s larger than life.
This EP takes you on a journey through themes and sounds. Mentioned before, Kara Marni takes great inspiration from 80’s music and it is no better reflected in “Curve” as she pays homage to the legendary Dusty Springfield, sampling her 1968 hit “Spooky” in the process.
While the previous is totally new age R&B, “Curve” goes through the archives and brings the 60’s right into the forefront and makes it cool again. Her vocals, smooth like butter, flows effortlessly on the track and really shows off her versatility, taking us on a journey through time. Blue-eyed soul and R&B meet so seamlessly. Dusty would definitely be proud.
The EP’s titular track “Love Just Ain’t Enough” comes as a moving rhythmic number, driven by upbeat percussion that swells to full capacity in the chorus and is carried on home with the choral-like harmonies by the very end. You really sense the passion and emotion that she pours out on this one, reflected in the subtlest of forms by her intonations and noticeably by her range.
The song in itself is exactly what it says on the tin. Behind the production’s rumbling grandeur, Kara’s pen speaks on the ultimately hard realisation a lot of people face that love just isn’t enough in any relationship. Without solid foundations, things ultimately collapse.
With a 80’s club nostalgia at the very essence “All Or Nothing” is one of the smoothest cuts on the EP. Going down this route can be tacky if not executed properly but they’ve made sure that this wasn’t the case. Classic disco synths are laced amongst the sounds of calming, ethereal keys. It’s probably the most pop-esque song on the EP but still looking from a disco lens, reminiscent of the dancefloors of yesteryear.
Channelling her inner Amy Winehouse, “Gullible” is one of the finest piece of blues I’ve heard in a while and ultimately is a nod to the late great superstar. Adopting a Motown-style canvas, the slow tempo track feels like the perfect fit with the production working in perfect harmony with the vulnerability within the song.
Her vocals are impressive, running effortlessly alongside the guitar. As she navigates through the nuances of different styles within the EP, track after track serves as further evidence of the true appreciation she has for the classics; putting her own stamp without straying too far away from the essence.
While the project is a salute to her idols, the penultimate track “L Word” fits right in there in the contemporary soundscape with its more modern production. It’s minimalistic with its approach, the haunting piano chords alongside with harmonies to induce a solemn aura within the song.
But what is even more notable is the maturity in her song writing. Of all the songs, this one hits home the most, regardless of whether or not it comes from a place of personal experience and whether you can relate or not.
The EP finally concludes with the love ballad that is “Selfish”. It is here where we find Marni at her most vulnerable. There are no ‘bells and whistles’ but rather stripped back production, which lets the content of the song speak volumes. Simple yet elegant piano chords blend sweetly with orchestral violins to create a rousing emotional number that truly tugs at the heartstrings.
Even beyond that, the song speaks on going that extra distance, putting in that extra effort all for the sake of love, even going against your nature. That’s the way love will make you feel. All those elements work together, leaving you in a state of awe by the time the song reaches the end.
In all, Love Just Ain’t Enough feels like Kara Marni’s own personal novella on the very topics we sometimes feel so awkward speaking on. She addresses the ideas of love in such a uniquely mature way through her eloquent song writing – better than some of her peers and especially for someone as young as she is.
Considering the fledgling that she is, it’s quite a marvel. Kara Marni is an undeniable talent and her debut to the world should not be understated. It’s the start of something wonderful. Purchase Kara Marni’s Love Just Ain’t Enough EP on iTunes here, and stream it below.
Words by Jay Tijani