Coming all the way to Los Angeles from the island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands, songwriting newcomer Carly Van Skaik has worked to garner attention within the LA music scene.
After landing a couple songs on the network television shows The Magicians and Shameless, she has now released a six-track self-titled EP.
Carly Van Skaik’s Shades of Rey
In addition to being a great potential title for a music documentary, the first track, “Behind the Velvet Curtain,” was my favorite of the album. It immediately pours the dark wave and baroque pop tones that continue flowing throughout the rest of the EP.
The song’s opening piano chords remind me of few gems off of MS MR’s rookie album Secondhand Rapture, while Van Skaik’s airy vocals echoing throughout the chorus perfectly mimic those of the duo’s vocalist Lizzy Plapinger.
Within the first 15 seconds of the next song, “Blue Diamond Eyes,” I was hearing undeniable influences from America’s sad girl Lana Del Rey. Van Skaik croons the old-timey lyrics, “She’s a Hollywood girl / Her name sparkled in lights / She danced in a cabaret / And she shined in the night,” over a reverberating acoustic guitar.
Although Van Skaik’s higher pitched voice doesn’t quite resemble Del Rey’s deep smoky sound, the songwriting and instrumental arrangements of this track could easily pass for something off of her Ultraviolence album. By the time Van Skaik got to the first refrain, I was half-expecting her to call someone “Daddy.”
As a bonus at the end of the EP, Van Skaik includes two different remixes of “Blue Diamond Eyes.” The first, from DAKTYL, has a bit of a reggae feel, playing around with a heavy trap beat, experimental glitch noises, and choppy, layered samples of Van Skaik’s voice repeating lyrics from the chorus. I was loving every minute.
The second remix, this one from Vara, stays much closer to the original song, preserving all the verses and choruses in order. For me, this remix felt like a buildup that never really led to anything; it incorporated techno sounds and electronic beats into the background music but never changed very drastically.
While I felt DAKTYL easily won the battle of the remixes, I appreciated that Van Skaik was humble and daring enough to explore making changes to her original songs and included both versions on the EP.