Pearl and The Beard were one of Brooklyn’s finest bands when they split up last year. The trio created truly special music. Though the split was sad, it excited fans at what might be next for the former members. Jocelyn Mackenzie’s powerful voice was a huge part of the equation, and she just released her first solo EP, Unlovely.
Mackenzie’s Unlovely goes into territories her former band never would. “Kids” kicks off the record with a great, catchy pop track filled with terrific vocal samples, harmonies and a killer bass. “17” is another great track. It has a great groove and is super catchy with a guitar solo that feels like a real ’80s throwback. Both tracks feel carefree and youthful from their vibe to their lyrics.
“Panic Attack” is a perfect example of why Mackenzie is one of my favorite artists out there. Her voice has such force, the controlled scream sends shivers down your spine, and the percussion-drive approach create an anthemic quality. “Want U 2 Want Me” follows, and it is a gorgeous track about lost love. “(but if i become a) Centenarian” is a beautiful song co-written by Ani DiFranco. It’s about what life would be like without creating music and wonders out lout if life could even go on. The EP comes to a close with “Meatballs”, a song in which Mackenzie confesses her love for meatballs. It is quirky but undeniably fun.
When I caught Mackenzie playing some of these songs during Northside Festival, I commented on how I admired her unabashed passion and energy. From having the guts to push out of the folk mold and create a great pop EP to putting a track like “Meatballs” on the record (despite producer Nadim Issa’s doubts), Unlovely is exactly what drew me to Mackenzie’s work in the first place – a fearless artist who is making music fun again.
Unlovely is out now and available on Mackenzie’s Bandcamp. The EP was produced by Nadim Issa, who has worked with Lady Lamb, Field Mouse, Sharon Van Etten, and Ingrid Michaelson.
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