Iven – Eight New Songs

Having a distinctive vocal style can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you’re quite literally able to distinguish your style simply be embracing your comfort zone. On the other hand, there may be a hurdle to overcome with new listeners that have set their expectations on something more traditional. On Eight New Songs, alt-folk, bedroom DIY artist Iven finds himself straddling the line between both worlds.

The entirety of this latest release leans in hard to the vocals and lyrics from Iven, aka Isaac Q. Horton, weaving tales of unrequited relationships and hopeful optimism towards future interactions. Underlying the distinctive stories of each track there are fairly consistent references to the narrators home – be it track titles like “On This Roof”, “Dirty Room” or “Weren’t You At My House Last Week?” or lyrics referencing couches, the dangers of sidewalks or the terror of leaving someone’s bed – there seems to be a subtext of social anxiety. That’s only one possible theory but, all told, the lyrics from start to finish work to create a cohesive tale of one individual and their bouts with overcoming doubt.

Rather surprisingly, the album credits note that the release was “recorded very quickly.” Musically, the songs are delicately layered; never pushing too far into an overwhelmingly dense wall of sound but never straying into sparse territory either. The acoustic guitar, drums and keyboards all swirl behind the aforementioned distinctive vocals. “It Had You” functions as the most emphatically emotive piece of the record, as it continuously grows and unfolds into a tumultuously pained refrain.

Which brings us back to that distinctive vocal style. Iven’s vocal delivery has two primary modes; a gentle and somewhat restrained delivery and an unhinged caterwaul. The later may be the most likely to throw off new listeners but the authenticity of the emotion behind it quickly makes undeniably enjoyable. There is a true catharsis to the release for both the narrator and the listener.