Amanda Easton’s “Drama and DooWops” 

Amanda Easton’s Drama and DooWops is the new EP release from the rising Australian singer/songwriter and finds her hitting and maintaining an impressive stride. Easton’s exhibited prodigious development since debuting and her songwriting continues to gain added maturity and polish with each new release. She’s also willing to take risks – the new EP amply demonstrates that for any doubters. Easton’s a born entertainer who exerts significant presence, but her journey is clearly much more of an artistic voyage than its commercial counterpart. I am sure she aspires to great success – no live performer yearns to toil in obscurity.

Drama and DooWops’ songs clearly show that. Despite notable success Down Under, Easton’s music doesn’t smack of regional restrictions. She’s experimenting during Drama and DooWops though it illustrates this well. It’s certainly far from expected that an Australian-born and raised singer/songwriter would, out of genuine respect and affection for the style, pen songs wallowing in a 1950s vibe.

This isn’t a strict exercise in genre resuscitation. “Dog Eared Drama” opens the EP centering around that compelling image in the title – chaos that’s all too familiar, events that smack of near-cliché. It’s a spotlight-worthy moment for Easton as a singer. The marriage of her bloodcurdling voice with the musical arrangement makes “Dog Eared Drama” a slaughterhouse blues with unexpected flair. It isn’t doowop, no question about it, but it has the first half of the EP’s title well-covered.

The musicianship powering these six cuts is top-notch. Easton and her cohorts continue dialing up the drama with the EP’s third track “My Pick-Me-Up”. It’s cut from similar cloth as the release’s first song, but this number mixes several complementary tempos to a five-star effect and leans further into the rock side of Easton’s influences. The harder driving sections of this track wouldn’t sound out of place with souped-up distorted guitar riffing away. It comes within the eyesight of such a twist anyway.

Easton places “Girl in a Sky Blue Ballgown” where she does for a reason. She knows what she has with this song. This is a tune that will represent the apex of Drama and Doowop’s achievement for many listeners and it isn’t difficult to hear why. It’s a pop-rock throwback that comes tantalizingly close to sounding like a mini-symphony. Easton’s words for this cut are especially strong and the unusually sharp sensory qualities of her songwriting keep prevailing. Her work is better for it.

You can’t overestimate the immense contribution the organ makes to these songs as well. “Floral Dress” surrounds yet another Easton gem with musical gravity it might otherwise lack without ever skirting obtrusiveness. Spectacular horn playing, evocative drumming, and exquisitely attentive guitar playing further invest this track with substantiveness that transcends era. “Before the Coffee Got Cold” turns the EP in yet another direction. Easton closes Drama and Doowop with arguably the most outright purist invocation of the past, but it’s nonetheless a lively finale. Easton sings her proverbial heart out throughout this concluding tale of romantic woe and the song’s arrangement is a crowning touch. It closes Drama and DooWop as one of the year’s sleeper best releases.  

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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