Chrystyna Marie is a Canadian blues/pop/rock songstress who has been represented by many indie levels before releasing music on her own. Her first solo EP, Loaded Gun, was released on February 29, 2016.
“You shoot me down just for fun / But tonight you’re better off,” chants Chrystyna Marie in her latest EP opener, “Loaded Gun,” which shares the same title with the track. It is an audacious EP that articulates a raw vision of sound that is nobody’s but hers – making it an ambitious addition to the modern day indie rock canon. Throughout the four tracks, we experience a breakaway and a new sense of independence as Marie steps out ready to take control. As an artist who has undergone numerous indie labels and even a pop band, she took a leap with Loaded Gun in pursuing an independent release for the sake of her creativity freedom. You can feel the tension, but also the sweet relief buried within it.
“Cus I don’t need six shots / I only need one,” claims the songstress. “Loaded Gun” is the EP’s centerpiece and first course that immediately places you in a toxic relationship where the other person’s addiction is enough reason to walk away. The marching rhythmic parade makes it the savoriest rock and blues bruiser that piles on thrilling chords, which immediately warm up your sonic palate to get digest rich instrumentation and hefty themes. Marie uses the gun metaphor to illustrate the destructive asymmetry of being attached to a person who’s unavailable because of drugs.
If messiness is what Marie walks away from, then what follows is her path to light and self-revelation. “Way down the road / I finally found some peace in me” she breathes in with relief in “Down The Road.” There is a gentle dose of hopefulness that seems like a hard-earned emotion she built through trials. Taking off with sparse and less ornamented beats, the percussions quickly pick up into foot-stomping level. There are silent, meditative interludes where only the guitar shimmers accompany her ohhs, giving us a small taste of the same kind of peace she found on the road.
There’s a small slump in the EP that feels a bit too corny and repetitive. “No More” is a bit saccharine that reminds you subtly of Kelly Clarkson. Even the lyrics, “I don’t feel alone / I’ve given up on you” are eye-rolling phrases that lack the creative flavor of her other tracks. But Marie quickly makes up for it with her exiting song, “The Tower.” While it lacks explosive moments, the entire piece leaves you into a suspended moment of relief where you’ve realized that you survived whatever obstacle was on your way. “There will be no breaking down, only breaking through.” The ooohs-aaahs gradually takes us to the catharsis of the ballad, which we finally get to indulge at 3:27 where the electric guitar and drums hammer our eardrums. It’s a rise-from-the-ashes moment where you feel like the protagonist of a movie who has finally survived a catastrophe an is now processing what has happened.
Loaded Gun is an invitation to Chrystyna Marie’s world where each ballad overflows with soothing, yet ear-pinning melodies that are coated with deliberate instrumentation and stirring vocals. The sheer courage of Marie to be heard in her own aesthetic sound frame, rather than in some constructed sonic frame by a record label, is what makes this EP feel closer to her. Her songs are celebrations of conquest, where she showcases her vocal prowess. You can feel the depth of her voice as she breathes out the renewing sense of self she achieved by shedding away everything that has been burdening her.
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