Easy to Do, Hard to Own
Stacey shows that there’s something to be said about simplicity. The relatively unknown and enigmatic songstress hailing from Toronto relies on a basic set of tools on her debut, one that is equal parts delicate and transparent. There’s a feeling that anybody could have written the songs on Stacey, but only a rare and commanding talent could make it compelling.
This effort is produced by Alex Bonenfant, who is best known for his work with Crystal Castles and handles the material with a delicate touch that is necessary for music with such a minimalistic lean. The approach works, for Stacey is about creating music of the heart, not of the mind. It can be seen in her simple moniker and in the album art that looks like it could have been lifted from Instagram; everything is guided by simplicity.
There are a couple synths and some minimal use of percussion, but the album relies almost exclusively on vocals, piano and reverb. Without any particular standout tracks, the EP flows naturally and has the mark of consistency. Chances are that those who enjoy the single, “Worst Part,” will like it all. It’s easy to feel empathic for Stacey as she explores relatable themes like tension and loneliness in love.
A steady atmosphere maintains throughout without much variation, almost with a dulling simplicity, but these moments generally hold up because of Stacey’s rich voice and intuitive understanding of melody. The best lyrics come in the rare moments when the songwriter loses some of the transparency and relies on figurative language. “Sleep Alone” ends with a musing, “I want to be where summer begins,” and it stands out because there’s finally something to imagine.
All this makes for a good breakup album. Its minimalism, if forgettable, will speak most directly to those pining for love and it probably sounds best when the times are tough. For this reason, those who find that personal connection will learn to love this album like a blanket on a rainy day, and those who don’t, well, they’ll watch it collect dust on a stack with their other female piano ballads.