Track by Track Review — “There’s A Light On” by Brooklyn Doran

As Thanksgiving Day wraps up here in the US, I sit in my parents’ now-empty living room and reflect on the past year. The past year marks a period of change in my life, and now that my family (minus my brother, who is in Illinois) has retired to bed I am left to reminisce on these changes, what they mean, and why I’m so grateful for them. A little over a year ago I moved from my small hometown in North Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue my life’s calling in music. I started college at Belmont University, met new and wonderful people, visited places I had never been before, and much, much more. I’m so thankful for these changes, as they really made me a happier person and helped me see the world in new and beautiful ways. For the first time in what seems like forever I enjoyed school and learned so much, both from class and from my fellow students. I formed new relationships and cherished old ones. I came to a deeper understanding of “home,” and where it is and who it’s with. I experienced the passing of time and realized what a mysterious and healing thing it is. That being said, these changes also made me a much more thankful person. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, tonight I am thankful for family, a place to come back to, Grandma’s cooking, and music– specifically There’s A Light On, the debut EP from Canadian folk singer-songwriter Brooklyn Doran.

Brooklyn Doran poses with her band.

Brooklyn Doran poses with her band.

I say this quite often, but music really is a language that transcends time and place. It seems I am constantly reminded of this, and There’s A Light On is doing just that on this chilly November night in North Georgia. Brooklyn Doran is originally from a small town called Kenora in Ontario, but her music speaks to me as if it were written right here. Released on May 22nd, 2014 and produced by Adam Faux, Aaron Corbett, and Brooklyn Doran, There’s A Light On is a beautiful and honest collection of songs from this emerging Toronto artist. Here is a track-by-track breakdown of each song on the album. 1. “Cold Outside”: This is the perfect song to start the album. Warm steel pedal guitar tones in the intro layered over gently-plucked acoustic guitar give one the comforting feeling a warm home provides during the winter. As Brooklyn begins singing, the lyrics gradually point to a lover as her source of warmth and security when she sings, “Time is infinite / with your  skin against mine,” just before going into the chorus in which she says, “It is cold outside / but I’m right here in your arms, dear, tonight.” The chorus is followed by soft textures from clean electric guitar and brass instruments, evoking a sense of the strong and deeply rooted feelings the two have for each other. “Cold Outside” is a beautifully written song, from the lyrics to Brooklyn’s delivery to the arrangement and instrumentation. Please do yourself a favor and listen to it.

2. “There’s A Light On (Kitchen Song)”: The title track from Brooklyn’s EP is a bouncy, heavily swing-influenced piece driven by brass instruments, upbeat drums, and a groovy upright bass line. “There’s A Light On” masterfully combines elements of light and dark, as the song brings to mind images of dimly lit jazz clubs with the band in the stage lights and stands in stark contrast to the more low-key song “Cold Outside.” Even the lyrics create a scene of a light in the darkness when Brooklyn sings, “There’s a light on in the kitchen / no matter how late you go out.” Listening to music is very much a visual experience for me, and I can clearly imagine driving up to a small house on a dark winter night and being able to only see a light on in the kitchen as this song plays over the radio. I could listen to this song on repeat for a long time, and that’s saying something– the song itself is just shy of a minute long. My only complaint is that it’s not longer.

3. “Look Away”: The third track on this EP is very piano-intensive and really showcases Brooklyn’s talent as a vocalist. This song is by far the darkest song on the album, as it is clearly a rebuttal to a man who has caused a woman harm in some way. Brooklyn sings, “I can hear her thoughts / echo in his mind / but little moon-shaped scars / are all he left behind,” just before she begins to chant, “Look away / look away over here,” in the chorus. “Look Away” is a powerful song with a defensive tone for someone who has apparently been done wrong.

4. “Lansdowne”: “Lansdowne” is a heart-wrenching piano and vocal piece about a lost love. The song opens with tender and nostalgic words spoken to a lover: “Dance a waltz for cold hands / sing to me concrete romance.” This opening paints a picture of two people in love, but it seems ill-fated from the beginning given the melancholy notes and the longing words. The chorus adds grief to the tone of the song, saying, “Lansdowne, Lansdowne / I’m gonna lay my head / on this broken ground,” but the second verse confirms this suspicion when it says, “We’ll shake hands and part our ways / I know you can’t but wish you’d stay with me / invite me in for peppermint tea.” The rest of the song sees Brooklyn using the upper register of her voice as she laments “Lansdowne, Lansdowne.” This is such a sad song, but it is certainly well worth a listen and probably one of my favorite songs from the EP.

5. “s.s. calamity (Sink This Ship)”: The last song on the album is perhaps a continuation of the heartbreak heard in “Lansdowne.” Brooklyn repeatedly sings that “it is sinking,” leading into a powerful build in which she sings that “…I will sink this ship / if it comes to this,” eventually belting this refrain at the top of her lungs before the band goes into a musical break to finish the song. “s.s. calamity (Sink This Ship)” is a powerful way to end this brief and wonderful EP from an artist with a lot of potential.

Being an independent musician is hard work, and unfortunately a lot of it goes unpaid. Show Brooklyn Doran your support by buying her EP on Bandcamp here, or at the very least “like” her on Facebook here. Brooklyn also has a website, which you can find here.

Get your copy and download of There’s A Light On

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