Last week I promised I’d come back this week to review Nalani & Sarina’s Scattered World EP, and lo and behold, I am here to make good on that promise. As we’re dealing with a 6 track EP here and not a full length album, this post will probably seem uncharacteristically short to long-time readers, but hey, I can’t write novel length posts every time, can I?
Ok, my posting history would argue that I could indeed do that, but history be damned.
The Scattered World EP is actually quite an interesting departure and example of growth for the duo. It’s not radically different stylistically, but the content is a little more diversified and the scope is broadened. As they’ll say during their performances, they’re trying to branch out with their writing and talk about not only their own experiences, but also those of other people, people they know and care about. It’s perhaps one of the most intimate expressions of empathy I’ve seen. I’ll talk more about those tracks when I get to them. There are also tracks that solidify their message of love and equality; the undercurrents of this could be felt somewhat on Lessons Learned, particularly in tracks like “Masha’s Song” and “White Dove,” but here they’re very clear and well-defined.
You already know what’s coming next, but I’ll tell you anyway — track-by-track breakdown!
- “We’ll Be Free” — In 1968, The Rascals released “People Got to Be Free,” a soul song about, well, freedom and equality. The track is sadly still relevant today, even as we continue to create new technologies that bridge the gaps between cultures and make the distances between people seem negligible. So it’s fitting, then, that in live performances of their funk-guitar fueled modern freedom anthem, Nalani & Sarina open the track by singing the first two lines of The Rascals’ single (“All the world over, so easy to see/People everywhere just wanna be free”). The message is the same, but the packaging is decidedly new and speaks more directly to the issues of the day — sex, gender, sexual orientation, but of course there are lines that could at least be interpreted as speaking to race, creed, etc. (as always, I don’t like to assume intention when I can’t support the assumption). The song is a call to… well, to quote directly, “stand up, say something.” It’s a call to speak out, to push for the freedom and equality that we all, as humans, deserve, regardless of your beliefs, passions, national/racial/ethnic background, sex, gender, I can keep going with this list but you get the point, etc. It’s the rallying cry we need more and more every day as the inequalities and oppression both home in America and around the world continue to approach critical mass. Musically, it’s a pretty stellar song. The guitar riff is catchy as hell and the whole song is fun. There’s an official lyric video which is worth a watch both to hear the song and read the words, and for the great visuals.
- “Scattered Girl” — The song from which the title of the EP comes, this is one of the two track that they’ve stated were written about other people. The song is about a girl living life without direction and without a particularly strong support system — “a crazy mother, an absent father,” so the song goes. Though there are certainly notes of hope throughout the song, there’s more concern than anything. At least, for me, but we all know I look at things through the psychology major lens. But though we might not all have been through similar experiences — I hope they aren’t common experiences among our readers, because they sound difficult to work through — I’m sure many of us, myself included, have known someone who at least parts of this song, if not all of it, can relate to. Go head, listen to it and tell me there isn’t one person you’ve known in your life that doesn’t come to mind at some point. It’s a powerful song, and whenever I listen to it I hope that whoever and wherever this “Scattered Girl” is, she’s doing well and finding the life she wants. Isn’t that all any of us can ask for, for ourselves and others?
- “Runaway” — Another of their tracks with a beautiful piano melody, this one’s the second song about someone else. This time about a boy growing up in foster care after his father left the family and his mother became an alcoholic. It’s fraught with pain, and as someone who is particularly angered and saddened when seeing or hearing about (even fictional) cases of child abuse, neglect, or similar situations, the lines in the bridge are incredibly powerful to me: “Can’t stand looking at/A child growing up too fast/Desperate for a way out.” It was already evident in many of the tracks on Lessons Learned, but this and “Scattered Girl” cement it for sure — Nalani & Sarina are capable of writing some of the most emotionally powerful music around.
- “Get Away” — If you’ve been paying attention, that title should look familiar to you. The “Live in the Studio” version was a bonus track on Lessons Learned. This is the recording with the band, the “electric version,” if you will, as opposed to the stripped-down acoustic version on the previous album. I do think I like this version a little more, despite being a sucker for acoustic versions of things. Also, I believe I mentioned last time that I think the acoustic version is slightly faster, which is incredibly impressive because it’s already pretty fast, vocally. I guess it’s the drummer in me, though, because I really feel like the song is strengthened by the drum beats. That might also be because it feels, at least to me, like it leans heavily on hip-hop styles of music, which need a strong beat. But at any rate, whatever version you prefer will still offer you some impressive vocals and a fun song about being true to oneself and not playing the game anymore that you can’t help but move to.
- “Love Who You Want” — This is the other “freedom anthem,” as I sort of think of it. This one is obviously
a littlemore blatantly focused on equality across sexual orientations. For some reason I always associate this song with the seventies, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Is it musically similar? Is it a similar message to ones from that time? I’m not up on my history, so if anyone reading this has any ideas where I’m getting the association from, please tell me. That aside, it’s a great track. It bounces along and feels fun, for lack of a better word. It bubbles over with the exuberance of being in love. Which I guess is the point. That you can get that feeling by loving someone, and it shouldn’t matter who that someone is as long as the feeling is real. Maybe if we all stopped caring about what other people were doing and focused on living our own lives, we’d get along better. Because honestly, how is someone else’s relationship going to impact your life? Focus on your own relationships, not what other people are doing. You might find yourself feeling happier and healthier.
- “Shadows in the Shade” — I’ve heard this song countless times and for some reason it’s only now hitting me just how beautifully poetic that title is. This one is a little overshadowed, no pun intended, by the other tracks on the EP, in my opinion. It’s a beautiful song, including the strikingly powerful line “It ain’t about what’s right and wrong it’s all understanding,” but it doesn’t immediately pop like the rest of the songs. I guess some that comes down to my micromanaging when it comes to track order — seriously, you should see me try to make a playlist. I think track order is important, because it sets the tone and pacing of an album or playlist, and a wrong move can be detrimental. I don’t want to necessary say placing “Shadows in the Shade” at the end of the album was a bad move, because it does work. But I think even something as simple as swapping it with “Love Who You Want” might have helped it retain a little more of its power. Because it is a really good song, and it would be a shame for it to get less attention than it deserves.
And that’s the Scattered World EP. From here, the only thing I can say is that I can’t wait for new releases, be it in album, EP, or even just single form. Nalani & Sarina have played a couple of their new, as-yet-unreleased tracks live in the past few shows I’ve seen, and I can say they’re every bit as great as the currently available material is and I can’t wait to get my hands… ears? on them. The band hasn’t released any information about when new material is coming, but keep it 13/31 and you’ll get my review as soon as I can get it to you. For now, I’ll leave you with some links:
Nalani & Sarina:
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