Sarah Kinsley – ‘The King’ EP review: growth and discovery in a shapeshifting world

Moments of clarity and emotional truths show up on the wondrous second EP from the New York artist

Sometimes, growing up is no fun. They say that time moves faster when you’re older, and trying to hold on to the important bits of youth as you start to leave your teenage years behind – friendships, spontaneity, a sense of adventure – can become increasingly tricky when everything feels dizzying and uncertain, as if the world is spinning around at 100mph.

It’s an emotionally affecting reality that the New York-based Sarah Kinsley confronts on ‘The King’ EP, an immersive collection of indie-pop songs that evoke how momentous it feels to stand at the edge of adulthood. The sublime title track – which the singer-songwriter and producer has previously said captures “everything about what it means to turn 20” – draws from the exact moment where fear turns to clarity: as she sings of ageing and irreversible change, her crushingly beautiful voice warmly hugs the lilting melody, as though she is comforting herself. But the optimistic pre-chorus – “So tell me/Before we get older/Let’s do everything” – suggests hope, not self-pity.

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The rest of the EP’s songs share a similar kind of generous intimacy. Kinsley is direct and visceral in her storytelling, she unearths quiet revelations that are threaded together by her own crisp production. ‘Over + Under’ is a personal disclosure of desire: “I think of you as the wind catches onto the breeze/Pulling me/You are the ocean of endless possibility”. As she delivers, her vocal shifts between a whisper and a gentle timbre, swirling and multiplying into layered harmonies, indulging in its own malleability.

Hypnotising and majestic, the piano-led ‘I Am Not A Mountain’ is elevated by ripples of dramatic strings, while Kinsley’s delicate playing is filled with cinematic swells and classical inflections. But it’s on the flickering ‘Karma’, the EP’s most upbeat cut, where the music gets more idiosyncratic; lyrically, Kinsley wonders if she’s ever going to figure things out, and she finds ways to make her home studio set-up – here, she makes sounds from inanimate objects such as light switches and glasses – sound swaggering and enormous. It’s an offering of casual magic.

‘The King’ is a brief effort that clocks in at little over 20 minutes long, but it’s meticulously crafted and, at times, oddly euphoric. Kinsley morphs the EP’s short timespan into a genuinely moving reminder that, even in times of uncertainty and confusion, a new beginning is something to be cherished

Details

  • Release date: June 4
  • Record label: Everybody’s Music
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