REVIEW: Charcoal by Riordan Stewart-Macdougall

Riordan Stewart-MacDougall, the girl with the pink guitar is back with her third release Charcoal. From the opening chords of the opening track All To Find You, we’re encountering a side to Riordan that we haven’t encountered. The lyrics are a touch more serious and mature, with the song structure highlighting love lost and love regained. It’s still got that Riordan vibe that we have all come to know, but the follow-up and title track Charcoal takes us into a very different direction. Deep piano chords combined with a synthesized string section stand out. Perhaps the most notable area of the title track is the lyrics – lines such as “Just a boy, just a girl – won’t pretend it’s you and me. Skyscrapers falling down, try to build them up. Burnt red cities and towns, whisper songs we won’t forget…” bring a darker shade to Riordan’s music we haven’t heard before. Charcoal is deservedly the title track – it is a powerful and moving track.

Take Me sounds immediately familiar a drumbeat and bassline akin to I’ll Be Watching You by Sting. Riordan adds a new twist by turning this into a worship song we can all sing along to. It would not surprise me to hear this one become a familiar song in churches in the coming weeks and years to come. Again, the lyrics show just show far Riordan has come lyrically, engaging with some darker topics but highlighting how God comes through at the end of the day. The Places We Go is a lighter pop-inspired track that deals with love won, love lost and the healing of wounds. A catchy chord structure and addictive rhythm section will keep this in your head for the rest of the day.

The final track Give Me My Heart is a significant departure from the rest of the EP. With piano and a synthesized beat, Riordan puts the pink guitar aside and lets the production and her vocals do the work. By the second verse, you can tell the song is working on a crescendo that seems to peak by the end of the third chorus. It is great to hear a young artist like Riordan take on a new platform and genre – and Give Me My Heart is a great way to experiment in a new area. Hopefully we can hear more from Riordan in this vein into the future.

Charcoal is one of those EP’s that shows how far an artist has come. Riordan’s songwriting and lyric matter have come a long way since her last release and Charcoal signifies a bit of a departure from the girl with the pink guitar. What we see now is an artist who is venturing into different genres and showing she can excel in all of them.

Charcoal from Riordan Stewart-MacDougall is out now on iTunes and Spotify:

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