Review: ‘Human’ fuses old with new

Singer-songwriter dodie releases third EP, showcases growth

Courtesy of Dodie Clark.

Courtesy of Dodie Clark.

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After more than a year since her last release, singer-songwriter dodie released her third EP, “Human,” on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. Much like her other EPs, “You” and “Intertwined,” this newest release blends original songs from the artist’s YouTube channel with never-before-seen tracks. The original songs have all been revamped and recorded professionally, with a fresh flair added in production.

“Arms Unfolding,” a simplistic and hollow-sounding acapella song, kicks off the EP by setting a remorsefully somber tone. Dodie expresses regret over a previously failed relationship and desperately wants to rekindle the flame. It seems to be a strange note to begin a release on, especially given that the next track on the record is “Monster,” a far more catchy and upbeat take on a failing relationship. The remainder of the EP, however, sticks with the depressing tone set in the first track.

“Human” showcases older original songs from dodie’s channel, with the oldest song on the EP, “She,” being released on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. Over five years, dodie has grown significantly as an artist, so she decided to display her growth by adding depth to her older songs. With the titular track being “Human,” this decision worked out in her favor; what started out as an intimate duet with fellow YouTuber Jon Cozart became an intimate duet with singer-songwriter Tom Walker. With “She,” however, all that was added was a string section that lost touch of the personal and dejected feel of the 2014 release. Whether or not the revamped songs were successful depended on the original tone and message of the track remaining intact.

This EP also shows dodie’s growth and maturity in subject matter for her writing. Previously, she had mainly focused on mental health issues including anxiety, depression and depersonalization. In “Human,” however, the artist explores relationship and career issues throughout the EP. “If I’m Being Honest” tells of blind hopefulness one may experience as a new crush forms, while “Burned Out” expresses dodie’s frustration with creative issues such as writer’s block.

Dodie flaunts her beautifully multi-dimensional voice throughout the EP, with each aspect of her singing style given its time to shine. In “Not What I Meant,” dodie’s higher voice blends beautifully with singer-songwriter Lewis Watson’s vocals to create a highly pleasing sound. The track “Human”’s softer, deeper-sounding vocals allow the depth in dodie’s voice to create an intimate vibe. In “Burned Out” and “She,” both of these facets are displayed in the same song, making them the best songs vocally on the EP.

A signature point of dodie’s style is the addition of orchestral strings into her music. She has expressed her love for stringed instruments, from ukulele to guitar to cello, throughout her musical career. When dodie first started incorporating stringed instruments into her songs with the release of her first EP, “Intertwined,” it was innovative and refreshing because her fans hadn’t expected it from her. Three years later, the string sections still play an integral part in her music. Although this sets her apart from other artists, the use of orchestral music in every song released has become repetitive; playing the same four notes in the background of every song has ruined the dramatic effect. Keeping it simple with only an instrument or two paired with dodie’s vocals would serve to break apart the monotonous set of three to six orchestral strings.

Overall, “Human” earns 3 stars out of 5 for showcasing dodie’s growth as a musician and lyricist. The overuse of strings and failure to stay true to the meaning of revamped songs prevented the EP from earning a perfect score. This EP does its job, but doesn’t quite reach its full potential.

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