Vanity Metrics by Gianna Lauren (Review)
The title for Gianna Lauren’s latest EP comes from the music industry term for the data that’s often used to determine the value of an artist and their music, e.g., the number of followers and likes they get on social media. But such data can — and often is — manipulated and bought, further underscoring the transactional, consumerist lens through which culture is so often viewed these days.
But Lauren’s music stands athwart of such trends. In a more perfect and just world, hushed and heartfelt folk-rock like this — music that comes from a place of honesty, humility, and community — would earn all the likes and favorites. Regardless of how much “engagement” these five songs might drive on social media, however, there’s no denying the beauty that they contain.
Much of that beauty almost certainly stems from the intimate and spontaneous method in which Vanity Metrics was created. The EP was recorded in just four days following a two-week tour, including material that was written during the recording sessions themselves. Subsequently, the music possesses a warmth that can only come from being recorded live, as well as a looseness and spontaneity that allows all sorts of little details to shine through.
Lauren’s hushed, lilting voice and frayed guitar are obviously the EP’s focus, but she allows her collaborators space in which to add their own nuances to each song. “Whoa” figures in Andy Magoffin’s wistful trumpet, Rebecca Zolkower’s backing vocals, and even some nice synth flourishes courtesy of J.J. Ipsen. Magoffin’s trumpet appears again during “Closed Chapter“ ‘s slow-burning climax along with Jennah Barry’s haunting vocals, and as a former bass player, I appreciate the subtle manner in which Greggory Clark helps drive the song upwards and onwards.
Maybe it’s because we live in a time where keeping people at a distance is a necessity for health and survival, but I find the communal spirit in which these five songs were composed and created incredibly fetching. That, combined with their moody, understated nature — Vanity Metrics doesn’t so much end with the aptly titled “Disappear” as fade away ever so slowly — makes Lauren’s EP a very welcome listen these days.