Iona James and Clint Slate were two artists walking their own paths within the world of music. Each, working on their projects either as a songwriter, vocalist or multi-instrumentalist, with most of them showcasing an impressive talent and passion for the craft. By chance, their paths crossed, and a new journey began. Together they started on a project to release a trilogy of EP’s to showcase their diverse taste in music and storytelling qualities.
Earlier in the year came the first part of their project, The Silent Sea. It opens up with “No Way Out”, which starts with some delicate guitars. It sets a gentle mode for James to come in with her beautiful vocals. She begins the tale with, “Stranded alone, alone in the crowd / Prisoner in my own head / Can’t seem to find my way out”. Then, Slate joins in on the following lines of the verse. As the song continues, each takes their turn in the spotlight. But they are at their best when their voices intertwine. It is a winning combination that repeats through the EP.
“Believe” features some beautiful harmonies during its intro. Again, their vocals are the star, with James’ standing out the most. Especially during the chorus with, “Close your eyes and breathe / You have all that you need / They are here”. Her tone has so much emotion it is rude not to appreciate the talent which she possesses. “Tell Me Now” sees the duo intertwine their voices yet again to impressive effect. Yet again, they shine during its hook “Tell me now, tell me, tell me now / What am I supposed to do without you”.
As much as the calibre of the musicianship has been high so far, it excels further with the closing track “The Ticking Tide”. It offers a different sound to those before with a captivating upbeat anthemic vibe. As soon as you press play, its subtle beats draw in the listener. When James comes in with “If someone had told me, life’s crazy plans / Would I take for granted times fickle hand”, there is no escaping.
As it continues, the duo vocally dances around each other, either on their own or together. Both sounding sublime, sharing duties during the wonderfully written verses such as, “Stranded alone, looking at the sand / Slowly slipping out of my hand / Beauty behold, just to hear that tiny beat / Can’t change the world, but I’ll set the ripples free”. They excel further when blending voices for the chorus, “The ticking tide, waits for no one / It’s wiser than I choose / The ticking tide, it tempts me, what have I to lose / The ticking tide one day will set me free”. It is a partnership that is a delight to hear and makes this one of the best songs they have created.
Iona James and Clint Slate tear up the rulebook by creating music that is free.
Now to the present day, they have released their new collection of songs called The Doubter’s Dance. Again, Iona James and Clint Slate take the listener on a journey. Slate lets his guitar skills shine through its opening track, “Firefly”. Along with the piano, it creates a beautiful soundtrack that is enhanced further with the vocals talents by James.
“Enough” is a personal favourite as yet again, they offer something different to what listeners have come to expect. As much as James’ vocals stand out with each song, it is Slate’s turn to steal the show. He switches things up by delivering his words with a flow that has elements of hip hop. He has a lot to say, but it is how he puts it across which makes it so compelling.
The mood changes again with the beautiful moment called “Summer”. Lyrically it is more simplistic than “Enough”, but in this case, less is more. The vocals are delicate from the duo, and the music gets time to breathe. It is a combination that helps to add something special to lines such as “Summer’s in my heart and so are you / The shimmer in your eyes of ocean blue / I don’t care cause if winter’s fair / The snow may melt for you, then we may share a moment there, on our own”. It is a song that floats along so effortlessly.
Closing part two of their musical journey comes “Shot in the Dark”. A synth-infused track that occasionally pauses to let James’ offer some softer moments. Also within the soundtrack are some funky elements and a killer guitar solo. It is a strange combination of sounds that works. If you like what you hear, check out their exclusive Naked Mixes that offer alternative takes of the songs.
Listening to both The Silent Sea and The Doubter’s Dance EP’s, it’s hard not to admire the freedom within their music. No songs sound alike, and they are not afraid to try something new. They have no rulebook. As a result, you do not know what to expect with their final EP of the trilogy. Personally, the unknown factor builds up the anticipation for its release.