12 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After winning a Super Bowl songwriters’ contest in 2008, California native Kina Grannis went on to release her own album, Stairwells, in 2010, walking away from a major-label deal. Stairwells made an impressive showing on the charts, and in 2011, Grannis won the MTV award for “Best Web-Born Artist” when her YouTube channel racked up millions (and millions) of views. After starting out in the breezy female singer/songwriter camp Colbie Caillat and Vanessa Carlton call home, Grannis’ emerging musical identity comes into focus on Elements. She’s working in new textures and shapes, expanding on the familiar summer-day sweetness offered by so many young female pop artists. Trading an overabundance of languid acoustic strumming, finger snapping, and waifish delivery for unexpected melodies, washes of moody ambience, and solemn tones, Grannis feels like she now fits the big boots she was meant to step into. The darkly pulsing “Throw It Away” juxtaposes her airy trill against whispering guitar work and rattling snares with mesmerizing results; “Dear River” is as purifying as a church choir, but sweeter; the spare “Oh Father” is both haunting and memorable. From Leonard Cohen–like intimacy (“Little Worrier,” “My Own”) to swaying, sing-along pop (“The Fire,” “Maryanne”), Elements delivers.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After winning a Super Bowl songwriters’ contest in 2008, California native Kina Grannis went on to release her own album, Stairwells, in 2010, walking away from a major-label deal. Stairwells made an impressive showing on the charts, and in 2011, Grannis won the MTV award for “Best Web-Born Artist” when her YouTube channel racked up millions (and millions) of views. After starting out in the breezy female singer/songwriter camp Colbie Caillat and Vanessa Carlton call home, Grannis’ emerging musical identity comes into focus on Elements. She’s working in new textures and shapes, expanding on the familiar summer-day sweetness offered by so many young female pop artists. Trading an overabundance of languid acoustic strumming, finger snapping, and waifish delivery for unexpected melodies, washes of moody ambience, and solemn tones, Grannis feels like she now fits the big boots she was meant to step into. The darkly pulsing “Throw It Away” juxtaposes her airy trill against whispering guitar work and rattling snares with mesmerizing results; “Dear River” is as purifying as a church choir, but sweeter; the spare “Oh Father” is both haunting and memorable. From Leonard Cohen–like intimacy (“Little Worrier,” “My Own”) to swaying, sing-along pop (“The Fire,” “Maryanne”), Elements delivers.

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