Album Review: Lindsay Munroe – Softest Edge EP

[Self-released; 2021]

Lindsay Munroe is on a continuous journey. On Our Heaviness, her debut EP released last year, she presented airy, wide open spaces where she focused on her divorce from a conservative church. Across the five tracks, she sounded like she was finding her space in the world both mentally and physically, but also spiritually. It felt like she was suddenly presented with an open road to travel down at her own pace. It’s fitting in some way then that the first song from her following release is titled “Need A Ride” (even if she rejects such an offer; “I don’t need a ride,” she declares assuredly).

“Need A Ride” carries on the theme of new freedoms, tracking Munroe as she reckons with being newly single and following on musically from where we were left on Our Heaviness. Taking the guitar melody from the previous EP’s final track, “Mirror”, she laces “Need A Ride” with a gloopy bass and momentum-building drums. The song swerves in various directions throughout, an exploratory Munroe at the wheel and enjoying the lack of limitations holding her back. It’s a feeling she embraces across the EP, trying her hand at a variety of styles and textures across the four tracks.

“Parallel” takes the award for the starkest reinvention, a spluttering drum machine excitedly and continuously whisking the synths around and around. “I don’t mind looking like a fool for you,” Munroe offers on the track, which is a self-confessed “love song for [her] best friend.” It’s full of reassurance and bright joy in the face of everyday adversity, like the aural equivalent of Munroe turning up at your door with wine and ice cream after a testing and exhausting day.

“Andrew” strips back much of the other tracks surrounding accompaniment, Munroe and her needle-like acoustic guitar notes taking centre stage before some effervescent drums seep into the mix. “I would have been a martyr to your cause / If you believed in anything at all,” she scoffs with a soft but affirmative tone, re-living the final night she and her partner spent together at an Andrew Bird concert.

The opening title track stays a familiar course in terms of its sound, but like with much of Munroe’s music, the devil (and enjoyment) is in the details. The rippling synths sound like pizzicato strings just out of view; the increasingly imposing hum that feels fittingly razor sharp; and Munroe’s own voice sounds like it’s nearing the verge of absolute frustration and anguish. “So tell me something / Does this get better? / Will I forget his name?” she asks to what sounds like whoever will offer her solace. Munroe sounds just on the cusp of capturing that true despair that brought about the track in the first place, which leaves the listener a little wanting, but equally it feels like she’s simply not there yet.

On “Softest Edge” – and indeed the rest of the EP – she still sounds in a transitionary state. In the future, when she’s processed all this grief and fallout, we might hopefully get that wholly devastating moment. It’s all part of the continuous journey Munroe is on as she takes back control of her life, relishes in her newly-found independence, and sets her own boundaries. With her Softest Edge EP the ride remains a promising and compelling one.