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Oct 15, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Becca Harvey’s debut EP, Swan, released under her girlpuppy moniker, certainly demonstrates an ability to craft timeless yet contemporary vignettes for the lost and the lovelorn.

Losing her job in an East Atlanta bakery during the global pandemic gave Harvey the impetus to spend time more time on girlpuppy and she spent the summer of 2020 writing the songs that would become her debut EP. It’s an EP in which Harvey displays a real flair for being able to convey complex emotions in just a few short phrases or couplets.

There’s often a tendency for emerging artists to be compared to the latest artist within a certain genre whose star has risen. So expect plenty of Phoebe Bridgers references in the future, which are not without merit, however, personally girlpuppy puts me more in mind of the likes of Alvvays and Camera Obscura. There’s an unaffected sweetness to Harvey’s voice and an open and questioning aspect to her lyrics that, whilst not completely unfiltered, seem to come from a genuine place.

“Miniature Furniture” may sound freewheeling and easy going, capturing a sense of wanderlust and those wistful last days of summer, but it was written when Harvey was going through a difficult break-up. She describes it as a time when rather than confront her own emotions, she began travellng as a means of distraction, as she explained, “I always find myself trying to hide from confronting my emotions head-on by doing things to keep myself from thinking about how sad I am.”

“Cheerleader” sees Harvey use the imagery of the titular character to express fragility and self-doubt quite beautifully with, “And I feel like a cheerleader/With no team, I’m just watching you from the stands/Hiding under the bleachers/You made me feel stupid for wanting to dance.” Meanwhile, “Hideout” has a dreamy sense of melancholic escapism.

Previous single, the shimmering “As Much As I Can,” has a beautifully natural melody allied to some pretty striking lyrics—“Internalized misogyny/Middle daughter, middle class/Shunned for your ADHD/Punished under your teacher’s desk”—whilst she also manages to reference QAnon and fake news. In her press notes, she explains the track is a love song “to the people in my life that make unconditional love the most difficult. I use the verses to recognize our differences, but also to recognize that we have a lot of shared experiences. I think a lot of it has to do with generational differences, the friction that it causes, and coming to terms with it.”

The EP closes with “Surprise Me,” which conjures up the specter of late ’50s girl-groups and melodically seems to be on vague nodding terms with “To Know Him is to Love Him.”

As debut EPs go, Swan provides an excellent snapshot of Harvey’s abilities and her obvious potential. It showcases the purity of her vocal delivery, her keen ear for wistful melodies, whilst also demonstrating her subtle poetic lyrical dexterity. (www.facebook.com/girlpuppymusic)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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