Remember the powerhouse vocals of Laith’s Bonds? Chenoa Summers, the powerhouse woman behind them, has been working as a solo artist from Jonesboro, Arkansas since 2015—two years before her band’s conception. Although she often brings the same emo influence to her own work, Chenoa’s recently released EP, Hazy Eyes, falls into the inde/ambient rock categories. All of the tracks on the record were written by Chenoa except for the final song, “Random Reality Shifts,” which was originally written and recorded as a demo by Coheed and Cambria. Recordings for the EP were done by Jeremy Jackson, Laith’s bassist, at Greycloak Studios.
The entirety of the EP is available on all major music outlets as of Friday, November 1, 2019.
The first song of the EP is also the title track. “Hazy Eyes” begins with gentle guitar strumming and a gasp of air before Chenoa’s voice begins, its deep sweetness a welcome addition. The track is saturated with sound despite the lack of a full band behind the vocals, its minimalism working to its advantage in terms of both melody and lyrics: “How many mistakes can I make today? / I drank too much again / When will this end? / I took too many pills / I thought it’d be the last time that I’d see you / You opened up the door / and found me passed out on the floor / Hazy Eyes / Don’t Cry / Hazy eyes / Don’t cry / Hazy eyes.” Although the song is only 2:10 long, it feels complete and whole, just the right amount unsaid for the listener to interpret on their own. Chenoa’s trust in her audience and the beauty of her diction make “Hazy Eyes” a wonderful choice for a first song.
“Savior” continues many of the musical themes found in its predecessor. With softly trickling guitar lines and prominent vocals, the track feels a lot like a poem with instrumentals instead of simply a song: “The great flame of death dances around me / As I’m engulfed by its chaotic arms / Nothing left to save me / I’m far too gone / My shell burns with a white hot hue / My mind melts and decays without you / Nothing left / Nothing left / Nothing left without you.” The short lines and mournful tones make Chenoa’s delivery of the lyrics a part of the poem in itself, proving that songs don’t have to be over the top to make an impact.
“Savior” glides right into”Terrible Universe” in a way that soothes the ear, making the EP feel very smoothly put together. While I am not typically a fan of cursing in song, Chenoa’s use of stronger language feels like it belongs in “Terrible Universe,” giving it a dramatic punch of a moment in a quieter EP. Again, Chenoa proves that she’s a poet in disguise: “Billions of stars / And I’m the brightest one? / How does my light shine through the darkness? / You outshine all the fucking stars / What makes me so special? / You could have chosen anyone but me / Light scatters in all directions / It bends around the corners / And I see you, and I feel you / And I see you, and I need you / Let us coalesce and fuse together / And be ejected from this terrible universe / Into our own terrible universe / You alone make it worth living /You alone make it worth living.” The repetition of the final line and the use of “you” throughout the song brings the listener into the song as a participant, but also creates a tone of familiarity and connection with the person she is truly talking to.
While it’s unusual for me to review a cover, Chenoa’s inclusion of “Random Reality Shifts” inHazy Eyes makes for an interesting version of the song. Chenoa “chose to include a cover on this EP because of the similarly heavy lyrical content and theme, as well as [the goal of] making it as minimalist as possible. In addition, [Chenoa is] just a huge fan of Coheed and wanted to cover [her] favorite song of theirs.” At 7:46, the track also stands out for its length compared to the rest of the EP. Still, Chenoa does the song justice, and vice versa. Chenoa’s brown sugar tones and softly powerful delivery create tension within every measure, making every minute of the track interesting. Although a bit more backing would do portions of the song some good to add extra depth, the livelier guitar of Chenoa’s version of “Random Reality Shifts” makes for a dynamic experience when combined with the self-harmonies and natural ups and downs of Chenoa’s voice.
While Chenoa has toured extensively with Laith, she went on her first solo tour in May. She plans to tour again in Spring 2020 in the southeast, as well as to record another solo EP in late spring 2020.
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***Like the majority of my reviews, a submission fee was charged for this post.***