Release Date: March 3, 2023
Genre: Folk, Indie Pop, Folk Pop
Label: Imperial Records The Texas-based rising singer-songwriter Grace Gardner is pushing her talents in the singer-songwriter category of folk and pop. With her debut EP, Peach, Grace poignantly composes stories about her frustrations with relationships, society, and herself. Integrating these lyrics with her ability to perform ten instruments, she adopts many of the genre's characteristics, her influence from her parents' taste in rock music from the 70s and 80s, the folk roots of her Southern upbringing, and the jazz sounds she was surrounded by while living in New Orleans. She also incorporates more complex instrumentation, taking after one of her favourite bands, Fleetwood Mac. Grace herself can play a whopping ten instruments, which are featured on the EP, but she also incorporates orchestral, brass, percussive, and software-based elements into her music.
Grace very much likes to be in control of things, so Peach was entirely self-produced, something that took her a lot of time to master by learning the ropes of the music recording software Logic Pro, and she now prides herself on it. "I self-produced my entire EP, which I'm very proud of. It took a super freakin' long time to do, but I really would not change that. I love being able to learn so much about Logic - like I developed back problems from that, being hunched over my computer...I love the process involved in everything," Grace confesses. "I was really stubborn in the production of the EP, honestly. In a way, where I didn't trust anyone else to channel what I was thinking in my brain into Logic, so I just spent hours and hours on Logic and learned it myself, which was fine so a while, but it's really gruelling work," she continues. Additionally, something else about the EP's writing process she prides herself on is that all the lyrics on Peach were written entirely by herself.
The EP's title Peach has a few different meanings to Grace. The first is that she was raised to think peaches were sent by God. "I was raised to think these peaches are God's nectar. Like God sent peaches. They are amazing. Peaches were always my favourite fruit...They were such a central part of my childhood," Grace reminiscences. The second is how later on in life, in particular, in films she has seen, peaches were used as a foreshadowing tool to give the viewer a heads-up that something bad was about to happen. "Later on, they started showing up in movies as a symbol that some bad stuff was about to go down. If you remember Call Me By Your Name, one of Bong Joon-oh's films -I feel like it was Parasite- also has a peach in it. It's like a foreshadowing thing where some bad stuff is about to happen," she admits. A third reason was also disclosed by Grace as she sported a grimacing smile, "Those two are the main reasons I called it that, but it's also the name of my ex's cat."
Lyrically and thematically, Peach was a project for Grace to process her feelings towards the unacquainted love and break up with her ex. Spilling her guts into the four songs that form the EP, they were written as a form of therapy and escape and acted as a form of recovery for Grace. "Hmm... What's the word for it? It's not like healing and recovery. It's kind of a processing project for me. It's definitely a lot of unacquainted love, in multiple ways, shows up on the album. Romantically and platonically speaking," she states. "And I think it generally represents big feelings. It was really just trying to gain some understanding over the things that were happening to me and the things I was letting happen to me and causing," Grace shares.
Musically, Peach is a powerhouse indie daydream. Grace amalgamates components of folk and pop, and Grace capsulated both in an indie pop project like no other. Songs such as "Deny Me" that is very strong, string instrument-oriented track, which contrasts with the emotionality of the track beautifully. "Parcel" is a lot more upbeat, while it's still driven at the core by a strong emotion. It's more of a "big band" song of sorts from Grace -even featuring some horn placements. Sonically, "Parcel" maintains Grace's deeply personal and emotive waves concisely with its breathy guitars, bouncy drums, and use of various string instruments. "Parcel" is an absolute stand-out among the four tracks. "Acrobatics" is very similar to "Deny Me" instrumentally, but it's a lot more mellow in a sense, with Grace's falsetto and long-drawn vocals. Finally, the EP's closing number, "Designated Driver," continues to brace Grace's folk influence and is the most acoustic, stripped-down song on the entire project performed entirely on an acoustic guitar.
A lot of Grace's inspirations and influence come from a list of talent from the 1970s through the present day. This list includes Carole King, Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell, Sara Bareilles, Brandi Carlile, KT Tunstall, to the likes of Julien Baker, Madison Cunningham, and Lizzy McAlpine. You wouldn't know it, but Grace only takes some of her influences onto the EP. Another side of her influence has yet to be tapped into, and maybe she will explore it in the future. "I'm an alternative girl. I loved Sleeping With Sirens in middle school. That was my jam. Like All Time Low, stuff like that. Big fan of guitars and loud stuff. I want to go more in that alternative direction, like the Madison Cunningham zone, and so 'Parcel' was really in touch with that," Grace confesses.
As she continues to release more and more music, she believes each one is a further evolution from the last, each song leaves a little peace of her behind, and she feels more in touch with herself as an artist. "I think every song I release continues to kind of give that feeling. Like 'Deny Me' was really important for my healing from that heartbreak at that point, and then I released 'Scorpions...' as part of a project, but it also came at a really good time in my healing at that point, then I released 'Parcel' as a final anger, one final screw you to the universe, type of thing. Until I could let it go, close the box. So everything has come at a good time, and I feel more in touch with my artist with each release," Grace expresses.
As a final little treat, Grace proclaimed that a possible full acoustic version of "Parcel" will get released in the near future. "We're kind of seeing if we are going to do a little acoustic b-side situation to see if gen-pop would like a version of 'Parcel' acoustic," she reveals. You can stream Peach now on all major digital streaming services.