Review by Emily Smith
Weaving an array of emotional complexity and musical influences into seven distinct tracks, the latest release by up-and-coming musician Kingsley titled I Am Because I Am will grab the attention of anyone looking for an artist who can join so much emotion and so many genres flawlessly into one release.
In this EP, Kingsley often contrasts the lyrical content and the instrumentation surrounding it, meaning the overall sound may be one way, but the lyrical content does not match the tone of the sound. For instance, the track “You” sounds like a flirty, synth-heavy, 80s-inspired pop tune – a sound that is very danceable and lively. However, the lyrics portray a sense of heartache and longing that contrast with the fun vibe of the track. Kingsley sings, “I’m still broken, holding onto faith in you, in us,” and, “Tell me why I still ache for you,” which is not what you would expect from an otherwise colorful track.
Another song that utilizes this type of contrast is “No Good,” which is a vulnerable, harsh reflection of herself in her relationships. With lyrics like “You gave me your heart/ Oh, should’ve left before I could do more damage,” Kingsley expresses a lot of self-blame for the way her past relationships ended. Yet the song has some bouncy instrumentation and production, especially during the chorus. The way Kingsley presents these unhappy themes in her music makes it seem like she would rather not acknowledge her flaws, since she essentially obscures the true meaning of the song with a sound that does not match its tone.
“I am still on the road to discovering Kingsley, each song I write is a clip of a short moment I captured. I hope to inspire others on their journey to self-discovery through my music,” says Kingsley
There are moments, however, when Kingsley wears her heart on her sleeve. “Might Not Make It” is one of those emotionally vulnerable tracks. It’s a live, stripped-back performance, which adds to the raw emotion that comes from her. Kingsley’s vocals mainly steal the show, as they demonstrate incredible technical ability. Her delivery of certain lyrics also makes the track stand out. At certain points, she delivers her lyrics rather rapidly, which makes it sound like her thoughts and worries are racing out of her head and into the performance. She sings, “I’m asking all the wrong questions/ Pointless answers” and “I’m out of my head now/ Close to the edge now/ I don’t know what I don’t know” in such a way.
The instrumentation involves mainly a piano and a sparkling guitar without much else. There is also some spoken word in the middle of the song. Some of these lines read, “Now this is for any person who’s felt lost, broken, or afraid/ You are not lost you are wandering/ You are not broken, you are mending/ And you need not be afraid,” offering some reassurance to an audience who may be feeling just as broken.
Kingsley also showcases her talent in various genres throughout the EP. Though the overall sound the EP may not be totally consistent, it makes the EP a fun listen. Tracks like “Vibe” and “Ghost” rely on dizzying electronic instrumentation and pulsing beats to propel the songs. Both tracks also offer some atmospheric instrumentation, especially “Vibe,” which gives off a chill, beachy vibe (no pun intended) that is instantly calming. The guitar work in the background and the production especially achieve this.
Kingsley eventually transitions to a surprisingly blues-infused sound in the track “Without You.” This track features some soulful piano and guitar while still maintaining Kingsley’s signature pop sound in the chorus. The bridge of this track features a much noisier sound than the other tracks on this EP, with powerful vocals and a swelling of instrumentation, including strings and a roaring guitar. It is a song that stands out among the rest of the tracks on the EP because of its unique sound.
The EP closes with the song “I Am Because I Am,” which features Brenboy. This track begins with a beat and some clapping in the background before introducing a very cool sounding bass and guitar. Lyrically, the track stands out. After an EP full of songs about not feeling worthy enough or depending on others to be happy, “I Am Because I Am” is an unapologetic song about being herself and shedding expectations set by others. Kingsley sings, “These labels, these boxes, to hell with you” as a rejection of these expectations. The title itself shows these rejections, as the only explanation as to why she’s this way is because she simply is.
I Am Because I Am is an engaging listen that will take the listener on a journey through several themes and several different genres. The effortlessness when combining different genres into one EP makes Kingsley a force to be reckoned with. We have a feeling we’ll be seeing her on the charts soon enough!