from the Far Away EP
from the Far Away EP
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Throughout the course of her career, the New York-born, Oklahoma-schooled singer-songwriter has rarely stayed still, putting down professional roots in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Denton, Texas, all the while working under—and living up to—her artistic moniker, OK Sweetheart. After releasing her first album, Home, in 2011, she settled in Seattle and tapped into the fertile music community of the Pacific Northwest, writing, recording and performing with the region’s most formidable talents and playing standout gigs at its most acclaimed venues and festivals. A magnet for talented, passionate humans, Austin’s also built bridges, establishing fruitful connections between peers and colleagues via intimate house concerts, dinner parties, social work and other creative collaborations.
In so many ways, her presence has made the city better. But just as sure as the breeze must blow, Austin is remaining true to her restless nature. With Austin at the center of the story, the time is right for the next chapter of OK Sweetheart.
That chapter is soundtracked by OK Sweetheart’s brilliant new EP. Written and recorded over the last year, these five songs brim with the confidence and capability required for moving on, emotionally and physically. Even as she’s tied to the place she calls home, Austin is ever looking toward the horizon.
“I left them all behind/For a flicker of light/When the darkest night/Was barely in my sight,” she sings on “Raging Flame.” The song is a haunting, bluesy ballad, smoldering and sultry in tempo and sparse in instrumentation. “Far Away” is an organ-driven pop song about self-sabotage and Austin’s new newfound resolve to get past bad habits. “We Can Do It” sets up yet another goal to pursue: “See it in the distance, just a little bit/I think we can get there, can you handle it?” In its propulsive backbeat and peels of guitar feedback, the song unabashedly embraces rock ‘n’ roll more than any previously in the OK Sweetheart catalog. Each song finds Austin beholden to a drive she can’t control, succumbing to her own instincts, drawn to some distant point—in a relationship or in her career, seeking a place of safety, pulled by anxiety, fear, strength, resilience.
As always, Austin’s voice is a gorgeous, expressive instrument built for the kind of timeless American pop songs she pens so effortlessly. This EP is her first release with her longtime backing band, guitarist Michael Porter, bassist Jeremy Buller and drummer Alex Westcoat. Along with Austin’s own evolving songwriting, producers Ryan Hadlock (Brandi Carlile, Cee-Lo Green) and Andy Park (Macklemore, Death Cab for Cutie) expanded the OK Sweetheart palette, adding to its traditional folk-pop to a compelling blend of indie rock and soul.
Further signs of evolution: In 2017 Austin brought on a new management team and a European booking agent; in early 2018 OK Sweetheart will tour Europe for the first time, playing Germany, Switzerland Austria and the Netherlands. It’s a big step. Austin will bring the songs of Home, of course, which fans across the US have loved for so long, and she’s bringing this new batch as well, showing another side of her band—and of herself. The only constant is change, and Austin is one step ahead, already gone. –Jonathan Zwickel