This past week I was lucky enough to listen to Orla Gartland’s new EP, Lonely People, which comes out internationally on January 18. Lonely People shows Orla’s growth from her YouTube roots to today and is a well worth a listen.
I admit that I was late to the game on discovering Orla, only having recently stumbled upon her YouTube channel, but what I find most notable about her is how instantly I felt a connection. I watched her covers of some of my favorite songs and felt as though I understood this young woman sitting in her bedroom with her guitar or ukelele, across the Atlantic Ocean. I watched her angry strumming in Skinny Love by Bon Iver, and I remembered angrily drumming my steering wheel as I blasted the same song after a bad night.
As much as I was drawn to the freshness of Orla’s YouTube videos, she has certainly come a long way since her first cover, posted nearly 6 years ago. With Lonely People, Orla strikes a balance between folk and pop with layers of sounds. Her voice is wonderfully raw, yet her songs are polished.
The opening song, Lonely People, kicks off the EP on a high note. The track begs for head bopping and foot tapping, and the initial sound of the song reminded me vaguely of The 1975. I particularly enjoyed the bridge: “I think we’re gonna regret these haircuts.” I cannot wait for warmer days so I can roll down my windows and drive along to these words, which manage to sound so fun while carrying a deeper meaning, as suggested by the title.
Souvenirs feels similar to the first track in its blending of sounds and the themes that both songs explore. Orla’s rich voice works beautifully against music that’s reminiscent of 80’s pop. She’s still that endearing young woman with her guitar, but has definitely matured – while still maintaining the rawness that drew me to her in the first place.
The EP slows down with Whispers, the third track. During the first verse, Orla’s Irish accent comes through, adding beautiful character to it. I found myself wishing that I had had this EP when I was 15 and simultaneously discovering that music was more than Top 40s and experiencing my first heartbreak. But, I’m grateful to have it now, and I’m amazed at how the track can remind me of particular moments from several years ago while not ever feeling juvenile. The music video for Whispers, released on January 13, complements the track.
The EP closes with Get Back. Orla stretches out her words here, while making her voice sound light somehow. The song reminds me of a lost summer romance. I imagine that this song would be a pleasure to hear live. Again, its sometimes melancholy words or themes are juxtaposed against a pop track, which truly makes the most of Orla’s voice and talent.
Lonely People is available on iTunes, and tickets to Orla’s first North American tour in March are out on her website. The EP is a testament to the singer-songwriter’s progress, and I already can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.