This one’s a treat. Cheyenne Marie Mize was a folk singer-songwriter from Loiusville, Kentucky. I say “was” because although her first album, which you should check out if you haven’t already, was a mature collection of stripped down folk tunes showcasing Mize’s beautiful voice, her latest EP represents something of a transformation. On “We Don’t Need” Mize explores a range of new styles in just six short tracks and nails almost all of them. No need to beat around the bush with this one: this EP is almightily good.
Almightily best of all is “Going Under”, a piano driven blues tune with a clapped beat that’s frankly irresistable. I don’t envy anyone who isn’t compelled to move their feet when listening to this track. Mize is right up front as she belts out lines like “I want to take your hand… I want to have a good time with my lover” with confidence and invigorating cheek. That confidence is even greater on soulful opening track “Wishing Well” where, backed by nothing but thumping percussion, Mize’s voice is so powerful that it induces a slight buzz of distortion in an otherwise clean mix by the song’s conclusion.
From the soul and blues of the first side, “We Don’t Need” settles, briefly, on more conventional rock for its second half with “Keep It” and “It Lingers”. The first is definitely the stronger of the two, a bouncy guitar-pop tune with a cheesy organ line in the background that keeps the mood emphatically light where “It Lingers” is just a smidge more moody. The EP’s only hint of tonal consistency doesn’t last long though, as closing track “Back Around” once again sounds unlike anything else on the record. It’s a reverberating, hazy, shoe-gazey instrumental whose thundering climax provides the EP with a surprisingly fierce conclusion.
If “We Don’t Need” faulters anywhere it’s on “Call Me Beautiful”, a track whose would-be sinister message - “Don’t call me beautiful. You don’t know how ugly I can be.” - is a little spoiled by the inconsistency of Mize’s vocal delivery: she opens with the hesistant breathiness of Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino on “Your Plants Are Dead” but slips into a Winehouse like twang by song’s end. Don’t get me wrong, both are fine vocalists to emulate, but perhaps not at the same time.
Really, though, the failure of “Call Me Beautiful” speaks to what makes “We Don’t Need” successful as a whole: the genre hopping might get a little muddled on that one track, but elsewhere Mize shifts through stylistic gears without a single misstep. It’s tempting to call Cheyenne Marie Mize promising because her career is so young, but that’s underselling it: “We Don’t Need” is a compelling record, equal parts fascinating experimentation and plain fun, and as exciting as Mize’s future will no doubt be, she deserves your attention right here, right now.