Singer-songwriter, indie folk heartthrob and one third of supergroup Bermuda Triangle, Becca Mancari returns with her sophomore album, three years after the release of her debut release ‘Good Woman’. Since then she’s released three singles with the aforementioned supergroup compromising of Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard and her singer-songwriter wife Jessie Lafser. She also signed to the New York based label Captured Tracks which has housed some of indies biggest names over the last ten years, from Mac DeMarco to Diiv and Beach Fossils.
On ‘The Greatest Part’ Mancari gets her most introspective and tries to understand how her past has defined her whilst loosing the ties she was once bound to, but still care for those she loved. Her Bandcamp bio says that she grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home and had to deal with the emotional and psychological turmoil of growing up gay there. And “After college, she set out on her own, following the wind from Appalachia to Arizona, from south Florida to India, drifting in search of purpose and community”. These ideas of escaping her past are put in the forefront on opener ‘Hunter’ as she sings “Well you’re never gonna track me down, No you’re never gonna find me out, Letters in the mailbox, Say I’m gonna hunt you down”. Referencing her religious roots trying to catch up with her as she escapes to a freer life. And again on ‘First Time’ Mancari evokes these deeply personal stories of being rejected by a family who she loves but don’t love her for who she is. “I remember the first time I tried to tell you the truth, On a Sunday drive with my heart stuck in my chest, Would the God you love take that love so easily back?”. Although these songs may be emotionally heavy, they are delivered in an almost whimsical way, almost as if Mancari is shrugging off these thoughts, as her laid back vocals glide over the sailing synthesisers and gritty guitar lines.
This album comes in at just over 30 minutes, with each song barely reaching the three minute mark, yet it still feels like there isn’t a moment wasted. With every song giving its piece without overstaying its welcome, yet still remaining memorable enough for you to want to go back and listen again. Wether it be the the gorgeous chorus melodies of ‘Bad Feeling’ or the dreamy landscapes of ‘Pretend’, there’s a wealth of subtle joy and emotion packed into these songs that it would be easy to just pass them off as ‘nice’. But once you dive deeper you soon realise there’s so much more intricacy into the way these songs are layered. ‘Lonely Boy’ builds from muted drums and guitars, to violin leads and shrouded synth bass lines in its climax. It’s this constant movement of sound whilst still keeping the familiar melodies that allows these songs to grasp your interest and draw you in for more.
Throughout this album the production stays consistently smooth and punchy, with every instrument given a time to shine but never becoming over bearing. With the production duties coming from none other than Paramore’s very own Zac Farro. This shines through especially on the track ‘Stay With Me’ which is packed full of hazy synthesisers, ethereal vocals and delicately placed samples. There’s a certain compactness to the sound, without being overly ‘lo-fi’ which mirrors the chorus lines of “Stay with me, Oh i’m barely breathing”. Almost as if this loss of breath that Mancari is feeling is causing the sound to become more suffocated.
The ‘Greatest Parts’ of this album come together as a prominent showcase for the understatement. Although the stories are emotionally cumbersome, they never come off as too overbearing. Which gets reflected in the instrumentations luscious tones, that are texturally rich but only if you scratch the surface of how they’re built, rewarding you for going a bit deeper. Mancari now two full solo albums into her career has established herself as one of the most interesting ‘Indie-Folk’ artists in the scene right now with her clever and witty songwriting ability. Her debut ‘Good Woman’ featured on BrooklynVegan’s ‘Five Overlooked Albums of 2017‘ list, but ‘The Greatest Part’ deserves much more attention than that.