BY GEORGE MAIFAIR | MOTHER CHURCH PEW | JULY 29, 20201
When I was a much younger music fan, I always avoided EPs because I wanted a “full album experience.” With time, my eyes have been opened and now I even prefer a thoughtfully crafted EP—a short album that’s made with purpose. On her debut record, Talking To Ghosts, singer/songwriter Bridget Rian uses a tight, 4-track song list to explore her connection to people that she has lost and parts of herself she’s buried in the past.
For an EP with a total run time of just under 18 minutes, Rian covers an impressive span of emotional real estate. She also pulls together a variety of musical influences to give you just the right blend of familiar comfort, yet make you hesitate in comparing it to other records showing up on country and Americana playlists.
On the opener, “Type of Girl,” Rian exposes the nuances of her struggle within societal gender expectations. It has a unique sound that actually took me by surprise the first time I listened. Is it indie pop rock? There’s definitely some Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker vibes. Or is it country? You don’t hear pedal steel on indie pop tracks and there’s also notes Ingrid Andress coming through. Honestly, it’s better to worry about where it fits and simply enjoying the song which I think fans of indie pop rock, country, and Americana will do.
The remaining tracks retain Rian’s genre blending sound but go down a more folk-rock-acana path–a little less pop, a lot more folk angst. “Trailer Park Cemetery” starts minimal with a rapid acoustic guitar melody supporting Rian’s clear, yet emotive vocals. However, as Rian contemplates relatable fears—not living life to the fullest; leaving this world alone—it builds with electric guitar and well-placed drum accents.
Album closer, “Funeral,” instantly feels like one of those songs that will follow Rian’s career wherever she goes. The song is an intimate conversation between the artist and her friend lost to addiction. Rian could write ten more albums and “Funeral” will always be requested at one of her shows.
The enjoyment of an album is all about curation. Growing up in the CD era left me owning plenty of discs that had the one song I listened to and 9 tracks of disappointment. In comparison, on Talking To Ghosts, Bridget Rian wraps the listener in a blanket of haunted emotions and doesn’t let you escape.
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Featured Image of Bridget Rian by Libby Danforth