Ali Barter is primed to release her third EP, titled AB-EP on September 4, and it is absolutely beautiful. Co-written and produced by Holy Holy‘s Oscar Dawson, and mixed by local Melbourne producer Stephen Mowat, AB-EP is a refined, enchanting collection of tracks.
The former Triple J Unearthed winner has spent the last few years sharpening her sound and fleshing out her songs with like-minded artists. She’s supported artists such as The War on Drugs, Phosphorescent and Husky, as well as making a name for herself in Melbourne’s thriving live music scene. The resulting EP is full of promise and potential. Not particularly long (AB-EP only features seven tracks, including a radio edit of Barter’s latest single Blood) each song is carefully selected, demonstrating a different angle of Ali Barter’s musical prowess.
The leading single Blood is both delicate and powerful, combining a strong guitar track with nostalgic, aching lyrics. Lines like “Your blood don’t get me high anymore” render the song one of the darker tracks on the EP. Hypercolour is dreamy and ethereal, lifted by a heavier drum beat. The song addresses the difficulties that artists face in trying to be seen, and the importance of creating a sound that makes you happy, regardless of what others think.
The EP kind of drifts gently from song to song from here on in. I Ask for So Little is a powerful reflection on the way that we make sacrifices when we are in love, however it loses motivation, toeing a confusing line between affection and contempt. If You Go and It’s Not Real show off some impressive vocals and guitar work, but don’t pack as much punch as Blood or Hypercolour. Ode 2 Summer is possibly my favourite track, reminiscent of those incredible heatwaves in Melbourne that leave you incapable of doing anything productive. With a powerful chorus, it picks up the pace of the EP, suggesting that it potentially could have been included a little more towards the beginning.
Ali Barter is definitely going places; whether she’s there quite yet, I can’t say. The EP is strong, but would benefit from a stronger emotional arch, as at the moment it seems a little more like a collection of her best singles. That being said, Barter is obviously aware of her own limitations, by enlisting a rich range of talent to flesh out and produce her songs she shows an acute awareness of the need to grow. She’s also fine-tuned her sound significantly over the course of her short, productive career. We should expect big things from her.