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“Up Next” Artist Review – Sylvan Esso

Written by on October 19, 2020

By Roxy Augeri

Married indie duo Sylvan Esso is the band to listen to when you are craving a traditional indie sound. The music falls to the more folk side of the genre, which has a lot to do with lead singer Amelia Meath’s stunningly haunting vocals. Mixed with Nick Sanborn’s unique electronic background pairings, they are able to amp up their sound to create something current and relevant. 

The pair met with Meath asking Sanborn to remix one of her tracks with then trio Mountain Man in 2013, where they hit it off and joined together to release their debut album “Sylvan Esso” in 2014. The pair hit the ground running and have gone on to release three albums since. Along the way, in 2015 they played at Coachella, Firefly Music Festival, Lollapalooza, and Austin City Limits Music Festival. They also picked up a Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album for “What Now” in 2017. 

All recognitions aside, there is simply not enough that I can say about this band. Each and every song they put out pushes the boundary of their capability not only musically but lyrically as well. Every song contains an important takeaway, which speaks to the level of artistry that goes into every track. 

The best part about that artistry is that it translates in each of their live tracks. Oftentimes electronic-backed songwriters have a hard time adjusting to performing in front of an audience without the protection of their track, but Meath’s voice has something extraordinary in all of her live tracks. 

My favorites include “Coffee – Live,” “The Glow – Live,” and “Die Young – Live” because of the way they have transformed the backtrack to suit a live audience. I highly recommend listening to their album “WITH” if live music is your thing, as it features a complete collection of their live tracks. 

While I cannot rave enough about this duo, my one issue is that sometimes the electronic backtrack takes over Meath’s vocals, and distract from the overall message and sound of the piece. Songs like “Kick Jump Twist” just don’t do it for me because of how out of place and irritating the electronic beeping in the background is. 

My personal favorite is their stand alone track “Funeral Singers,” which I enjoy because it has that folk sound core – it’s stripped down to minimal electronic sounds, with a steady guitar allowing Meath’s vocals to be the star of the show. Honorable mentions are “Coffee” for a chill driving beat, “Hey Mami” for an escape to the more electronic side, and “Die Young” for when you’re feeling down. 

Sylvan Esso is just what you’re looking for when you’re searching for beautiful lyrics paired with captivating beats. This group has not only mastered their sound in the recording studio but also on stage, which makes them that much more dynamic. They have a song for every mood, and overall the artistry put into their tracks makes them special. 4.7 stars out of 5.

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