Album Reviews Music

Beth // James Releases “Falling”

Beth // James is an Austin-based duo specializing in indie folk pop. Singer-songwriters Mikaela Beth Kahn and Jordan James Burchill have been making music together since 2015 and released their debut EP, “All in Life,” in 2017. Their song “Lion Eyes” was featured in Spike Lee’s joint, BlacKkKlansman.”

“Falling” EP by Beth // James
Photo Credit: Sarah Ching Photography

Now they’re releasing their sophomore EP, “Falling.” It contains three tracks, ending with the titular song — the one that sounds most like it could be a single. The song “Falling” is a ballad about love in which each of the two singers takes turns showing off their vocals, while still harmonizing during the chorus. It also features a piano and strings evident in addition to the guitar that takes center stage on “Wasted on Sundays” and “Blurry.”

That doesn’t mean the first two tracks aren’t enjoyable — just different. In the past, Beth // James has been compared to The Civil Wars, and listening to those tracks, it’s easy to hear why. There is also a touch of Jason Mraz’s sensibilities in their songwriting, and their voices blending together creates a beautiful duet. As listeners, we’re lucky they chose to make music together because there couldn’t be a more perfect vocal pairing.

“Wasted on Sundays” is a fun song that opens with an almost tropical vibe and uses drums more heavily than the other tracks. This is also where Mikaela Beth Kahn showcases her voice, which is like a mix of the best parts of Norah Jones, Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri. According to the band, it’s sort of a nod to millennial culture: “Everyone seems to be putting on the same facade, pretending they know exactly what they’re doing, but we’re really all just winging it.”

“Blurry” is the most acoustic of the three songs on the EP, with the plucky guitar and harmonies one might expect from an indie folk pop duo — though it also features a subtle horn solo. This one feels a bit more melancholy, perhaps because it was written about the state of the country in 2018.

All in all, the “Falling” EP from Beth // James is a joy. These two are clearly full of great music, lyrics and ideas. It will be exciting to see what they do with the parameters of a full-length album someday.

“Falling” will be available on Friday, February 1, 2019. And don’t miss their official release show at the Cactus Cafe! Opening the show will be Austin-based singer-songwriter, Erin Ivey. Doors will open at 8 p.m. and Beth // James will take the stage at 9 p.m. Get your tickets here.

Featured image credit: Sarah Ching Photography

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