Review: Evangeline Gentle’s Self-Titled Debut Album

The album artwork for Evangeline Gentle’s debut album, Evangeline Gentle, released by COAX Records on September 13, 2019. Image via Evangeline Gentle on Facebook.

Confessional and contemplative, Evangeline Gentle’s self-titled debut is a force to be reckoned with. Themes of love, strength, and Gentle’s own life are put into perspective by this collection of soft songs and strong vocals.

The album opens with “Drop My Name,” a controlled but not unemotional response to anyone questioning Gentle’s worth. This strong yet dreamy track showcases their ranging voice and assertive narrative – with the bridge making way to plucked strings and hidden harmonies. Ending with optimistic synth notes, the song sets the scene for a powerful album to follow.

“Ordinary People” tells the story of an overwhelming life softened by love and kindness. Reminiscent of a late-night car ride with banjo strings and synth starlight; this ode to the little bits of magic in life is a poem put to music, and you’ll feel all the lighter for listening.

With a bassline weaving in and out and flowy vocals swirling throughout, “Sundays” is a cozy track nestled into itself. Describing this song as the soundtrack for afternoon home video could not be closer to putting it into words; Gentle dedicates this song to the wholesome, intimate moments in a relationship.

“Even If” makes its mark as the jazziest song on the record, with breathy backing vocals calling on images of grainy French cinema, and shifting cadences making the swaying melody feel almost nautical. The lyrics’ enjambment and the merry piano accompaniment make this longing song somehow still bright.

Gentle’s summer anthem, “So It Goes,” begins with gentle guitar plucking and rolling chords almost suggesting something bigger is coming. Nostalgic and sweet, this track speaks to sweethearts with a bridge that says what it needs to on the back of cautious drumming and a synth beat that tries to modernize a timeless, folky song.

Melancholic piano and shuddering vibrato vocals remark on various social issues in “The Strongest People Have Tender Hearts.” This crooning ballad focuses on staying soft in a hardened world, and throughout the retelling of struggles, Gentle seems to find closure towards the end, resolving the song with a hopeful note.

“Long Time Love” is a sensual-sounding song with soft lyrics. A deep, pulsing base creates a rich background for Gentle’s crooning about the beauty of their lover, with lighter notes towards the end. Velvet and lux, this track is an ode to knowing at first sight.

Mellow and playful, “Neither of Us” speaks to when a relationship is just what you want. Insecurities don’t fade away but rather become insignificant in Gentle’s take on being comfortable in love. Perfect for slow dancing, this song speaks volumes about the value of equality, honesty and openness when it comes to romance.

The penultimate track on the album, “Digging My Grave,” takes a turn to comment on the drawbacks of an addictive relationship. Soft sirens glow in the back of the song, lovely to listen to but perhaps they urge the same warnings Gentle acknowledges they ignored.

Closing the album, “Good and Guided” chronicles Gentle’s musing like a journal entry, as they wonder on the idea of remaining soft in a world that “strips bare”. Not restrained by rhyme or rhythm, Gentle almost vows to live by their heart. Acoustic instrumentals complement Gentle’s folk voice, and the song draws to an end.

Evangeline Gentle holds nothing back on this stunner of a debut, and there will no doubt be more magic and music to come from this local artist.

Buy tickets to Evangeline Gentle’s album release party at the Theatre on King on Friday October 4 here.