The D.C. music scene has always been a vibrant intermingling of world-class musicians with roots in countless genres. As the world attempts to recover from Covid-19, both new and established acts from the area are barreling back headfirst into the music scene — and they’ve got a lot to share. Read on for our reviews of 10 local artists’ impressive new releases.
Shaolinn’s “Blackstone” is an intoxicating meditation on pain and loss. The hazy, dreamlike music offers a stark contrast to the thoughtful, cerebral lyrics, ultimately lending to a heady narrative that is at once emotionally intimate and deliberately restrained.
Opening track “Heavy Heart” is a perfect example of the singer’s lyrical prowess. An upbeat yet contemplative reflection on the tribulations of youth, the song spotlights a pensive Shaolinn who confesses the role she’s played in her own pain: “I always had a heavy heart/I always had a rough start/but I never tried to take the time/to tell them that I love them so/even when they’re walking out the door/if I just told them how I really felt/I wouldn’t have a heavy soul.”
The EP offers more melancholic musings on romance, with “Frank” exploring the tension between desire and authenticity. In it, a conflicted Shaolinn sings affectionately of a lover: “I can’t comprehend/I love the way you dance,” yet she still reaches the self-preserving conclusion that she’s “gotta leave.”
The EP’s diverse spectrum of emotions matches the multitude of musical influences in the young artist’s work. While it echoes the soulful improvisation of R&B, its lo-fi vibe, alternative beats and layers of synth are reminiscent of the experimental sound of revered psychedelic artists like Mac Demarco.