Marie Avery is a singer-songwriter with the spirit of a phoenix, finding joy in pain and self-reflection. Her latest EP The Fire sees her taking on a myriad of emotional tones and illustrating each with candor and a wicked sense of whimsy. Each track demonstrates her mastery of texture and dynamic—shimmering beauty achieved through sincerity and form in equal measures.
Opener “Caged Bird” feels like the grand opening of a Broadway musical, letting Avery’s wide range and delicate voice shine amongst cocktail lounge piano and hushed stop-start rhythms. Once Avery enters the heart of The Fire, she doesn’t stop burning up everything in her path; “Heavy” is forlorn, bombastic balladry wrapped in ocean-size drums and subdued instrumentation evocating some of Bess Rogers’ finest work, while “Stories,” befitting its name, has something of a fairy-tale aesthetic, laying Avery’s desires to make something out of her life over a dazzling piano arrangement (and making very, very effective use of horns to bolster her mighty ambitions). Perhaps the standout here is “Sailing,” another track which sees Avery laying business down with just the piano to keep her company—yet the atmosphere’s always blooming on the fray, only exploding as Avery finally declares her affections without abandon. “If You’ve Got Time” closes out this stellar set with an enticing offer: “If you come through the back,” Avery lets us know, “I’ll leave the screen door open.” If she keeps putting out material this good, she’ll have an absolute mess in her backyard.