Julia Alsarraf is a singersongwriter based in Troy, NY. Divide & Conquer has reviewed a past project of Alsarraf’s in which she collaborates with a friend. Left to Write’s album Stories was an intimate lo-fi affair that contained melancholy overtures that though simply rendered was emotionally powering. Mixed Feelings, which is Alsarraf’s first solo EP, does not stray too far from this initial sound. The tracks on the EP are also minimalistic with sparse instrumentation supporting the vocals. In the singer/songwriter vein, this casts an intimate spotlight onto Alsarraf’s vocal delivery and the simplicity simply magnifies the emotion and power behind these songs.
The artist mentions: “The title ‘Mixed Feelings’ is a bit of a pun about using the music production process to translate feelings and emotions into a mix of recorded sounds. More literally, the songs are snapshots of a sequence of feelings I found myself cycling through during experiences of personal rejection.”
On that note, Mixed Feelings opens up with “Won’t Feel It,” where the acoustic guitar is tethered with Alsarraf’s soaring and moving vocals powers toward the start of the track. This is a stripped-down number, made all the more powerful from its intimate approach. A drumming beat sidles in, creating a more upbeat and vibrant feel. The sound of keys is energized and melodious.
Following is “Back To Sea,” where deft numerating on the acoustic guitar starts off this stripped-down song. Simply rendered, the vocals are made all the more impactful from a back to the basics vibe coming from the lone accompaniment with guitar and vocals. Next, the sound of percussions sizzle in, adding a lively vibe.
Noodling on the guitar provides a pensive feel to “Mixed Signals.” Sounds of percussions traces in. The vocals are silky smooth and vie for your attention while the lush sound of strings underscores this track. The beats are jaunty and upbeat on the closer “Such A Waste” where the rhythms are sauntering and fully charged.
Although some of the songs on the EP leaned more towards pop, some had a more folk, Americana, or indie rock vibe. Alsarraf admits that she is more rooted in mood and energy than genre when she writes. You can see what holds these tracks together cohesively is the theme. Revolving around universal themes of love, heartache and rejection, the lyrics retain a deeply relatable vibe that makes these tracks consistently accessible to audiences.
Alsarraf definitely wears her heart on her sleeve on these numbers. Alsarraf ditches the lo-fi delivery in her previous projects and embarks on a more polished sound. Recorded and mixed and mastered by Mike Dwyer at The Bunker Recordings in Catskill, NY, the professional production really added to the sound on this EP. The vulnerability to Alsarraf’s vocals is really highlighted here, which added to the sensitivity of what she is singing about. That combined with the solid instrumental aspect made for a great album.
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