Supersmall is an up-and-coming folk/rock/roots duo from NYC, made up of Irish singer-songwriter Colin Dempsey and drummer Daniela Schiller (of the Amygdaloids), both experienced musicians. In June, they released their debut EP, This Other World, six songs both bright and haunting in equal parts. Dempsey’s and Schiller’s experience as musicians is evident in this pristinely produced collection of dreamy folk songs.
As you know from my love of The Mountain Goats, storytelling through music is just about my favourite thing ever, particularly John Darnielle’s breed of it. This Other World certainly has an element of poetic storytelling (Dempsey and Schiller met at storytelling events in NYC), but the lyrics seem to serve more as a series of disjointed images, forced rhymes, and well-known observations about love and life (“words are a stranger in your disco head / I’m harboured from danger in your granite bed / love is a high, love is a low / blind to misfortune and wide as is long”) than honest-to-goodness stories or glimpses into real, raw, emotional worlds. I listened closely to every song on the EP several times over and, though the music of each song conveys a clear feeling, I failed to find a congruent story in and of itself in any of them and found it to be difficult to glean deeper meanings from many of the lyrics.
That being said, all of these songs are worth a listen. There is a dreaminess in them that I’ve never heard in other folk bands, particularly on the more haunting songs, like “Everywhere” (one of my faves):
This one sounds a lot like a song outta James Bond to me, which is odd considering the fact that I don’t really care for James Bond movies (please don’t hate me). Still, It sounds like a steamy spy love affair with the crooning strings, the haunting guitar, the smokey vocals. Not to mention it’s super catchy–I’ve found myself singing this one under my breath quite a lot lately.
My favourite song on the EP is, without a doubt, “Goodbye Old Friend” (which, coincidentally, is also the most story-oriented song):
This one is upbeat and bittersweet and I have the urge to listen to it on repeat while I take a stroll up Mount Royal on a sunny day ’cause that’s just what I do. Where “Everywhere” plants itself in my vocal cords and takes up root there, “Goodbye Old Friend”‘s extra-bright-and-catchy guitar riff goes straight for my serotonin receptors and the drums set a fire under my feet. This is a bittersweet (heavy on the sweet) farewell to a close friend (“well, everything is changing / well, everything but you / and when darkness falls inside my heart / I’ll go walking back to you”) and I can only hope that this close friend has the honour to hear such a lovely song.
You can download This Other World on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, or Google Play (if you’re in the US), or you can stream it on SoundCloud. And for my final trick, I shall direct you to Supersmall’s events page so all you NYC locals can hit up their next show!