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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Review: ‘Look at it in the Light’ feels like a hug from someone who is as confused as you are

Kate Bollinger’s third EP explores themes of growth and acceptance

 

By CLARA FISCHER — arts@theaggie.org

 

Among the many great indie/alt musicians who have graced our headphones in the past couple of years — looking at you, Phoebe Bridgers — Charlottesville-based singer Kate Bollinger shines through like a beam of light with her cozy, dreamy songs that transport you right into her home where they’re written.

“Look at it in the Light” sees Bollinger tackle her third EP and continue honing her folksy, comforting sound that she’s already established in some of her previous work. With sweet harmonies and hazy guitar chords to accompany them, the soundscape of the work feels like a ticket to a warmer, more peaceful dimension.

Starting off with “I Found Out,” a song that has Bollinger layering vocals on top of a smooth guitar hook and snare beat, listeners are instantly clued into the peaceful sound permeating the whole EP. The song is ushered in with a recording of bird noises, which evokes an image of a peaceful Virginian forest, perhaps in homage to Bollinger’s stomping grounds. 

The next track is one of my personal favorites and also one of the first songs I ever heard from Bollinger. “Who Am I But Someone” explores the idea of moving forward, for better or for worse. With lyrics like “I set out on a sinking ship / I’d rather slip than be alone on the island,” the song may come across as depressing at first glance, but the lyrics are juxtaposed by a cheerful melody and guitar riffs in a way that makes the song an upbeat yet insightful listen.

Next is the titular track, “Look at it in the Light.” The song sees Bollinger’s sweet voice lament “the way things change.” The lyrics and note progression on this song are somewhat repetitive for my taste, but perhaps that’s the point — she can’t deny that “something’s not right,” but by repeating the same mantra (“I try not to notice”) over and over again, she can attempt to tune it out.

“Yards / Gardens” is one of those songs that speaks directly to the soul of the young and confused. Bollinger explores themes of growing up and moving on — or more specifically, the struggles that come with doing so. With lyrics like “I’m viewing days like practice rounds / Come next year I’ll know what to do” and “I’ve finished mourning what I lost in the past year / The past’s how I got here” coming directly before she sings “Please don’t leave me behind / When the world is burning outside,” the song captures all the turmoil of a coming-of-age movie in two minutes and 21 seconds.

While the whole EP has many of the same musical qualities running through it, “Lady in the Darkest Hour” feels like somewhat of a switch-up in the work’s tone. It’s a bit moodier and almost like a more grown-up version of the precursing songs. Up until now, Bollinger’s been trying to deny the effects of change, and on “Lady in the Darkest Hour,” it almost seems that she’s accepted that it is inevitable: “Things couldn’t stay, but change has a certain bite / Then the outside peels away / Revealing it was right.”

The closing track, “Connecting Dots,” is very intimate, with an intro featuring limited drum snares and more emphasis on Bollinger’s voice and her guitar. As the song develops, so does the production, though the lyrics stay the same. She builds on the central themes of the EP and closes out the work by revealing, “The commotion became my devotion.”

“Look at it in the Light” is a relaxing, relatable listen that will likely resonate with anybody going through a period of self-reflection. More than anything, listening to Bollinger feels like a hug from someone who is as confused as you are but is somehow privy to the notion that everything will work itself out in the end. 

 

Written by: Clara Fischer — arts@theaggie.org