Forged in Sydney, classical pop songstress Wren is a luscious writer that mixes a dynamic palette of instruments to yield impressionable songs with strong artistic merit. As a solo composer it can be difficult to mastermind tracks that deliver such breadth and intricacy as Wren’s debut EP ‘Raw’.
Following up from the successful two singles ‘Alive’ and ‘Here’ in 2014 which received widespread praise, the EP is a powerful compilation of 5 tracks displaying clever and crafted musicianship.
Spreading her wings to tour the East Coast in jubilation of the release of the Raw EP, it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall and watch the reactions of those unfamiliar with her work. Picturing the atmosphere I can sense a silent crowd and faces in awe of what is transpiring from on stage. The point of captivation within Wren’s work is the strong emotive overtones, one can imagine are designed to align listeners with the powerful imagery residing within her mind. At times it feels like you are immersed in the sound track to a fixating film filled with twists and turns of tragedy and triumphs in personal reflection and understanding.
‘Here’ slowly begins this journey, a track with a sweeping progression from a pulsing beginning into a chanting chorus, we become acquainted with the diversity of Wren and her dense character. The string arrangements and marching drum beats are used minimally at what seems to offer a glaze over what is predominantly a piece that uses soft yet striking vocals to deliver a message of deliverance and letting go. ‘Kindred’ takes a tone that swings between slow searching verses broken between harmonic cries that reverberate a kind of heartache. You feel as if Wren is taking on a persona that is perhaps not her own but rather mystical in nature. The marching beat returns here drawing us into a dark brooding interlude, harrowing string lines piece the lurking darkness. This draws us to an important consideration of Wren’s work, whiles delivering weighty themes they are never presented as ugly, there is a kind feminine touch to them that makes them feel archaic and something to be marveled rather than feared.
The third single to be released, ‘Soldiers’, follows on taking the record down a few rhythms and introducing a sad tone. The lyrics ‘can I keep you safe from harm’ is answered by ‘no’ which explains this ballad describing loss and an insecurity to protect oneself or each other. It is a track that illustrates nicely the diverse canvas Wren works with. In a sense the EP becomes deeper as it progresses, ‘Alive’ takes us on a path that feels along the lines of philosophy, it is a song that describes evolution and development. It is of the same kind as ‘Here’ with its progression however there is an elegant instrumental break midway through the piece which lends it to a more uplifting vibe. We then arrive at the title track ‘Raw’ which starts with an overshadowing dominant bass accompanied by piercing violin reminiscent of a renaissance period. The song builds to its peak midway shredding various churning instrumental transitions, a wind stirs and we feel as if we are on a sail ship drifting toward ominous and violent sea. A fitting close to what has unfolded as a bold, powerful and yet elegant release.
Unlike fellow contemporaries something poetic and brilliant shines through Wren’s music. She isn’t afraid to fortify her writing with symbolism that is dark and alluring evoking patterns of thought that are complex and metaphoric in nature. You can’t help but feel like you are listening to someone who has experienced a lifetime of emotion and is sharing an intricate part of themselves through a delicate and unique form of music. Both strong yet fragile, ‘Raw’ is an EP that can be explored time and time again, each listen you find new connections and new meanings behind the veil that is the artist Wren.
– Reviewed by Morgan O’Brien