Published May 13, 2019Nineteen-year-old Taylor Janzen's first EP, Interpersonal, was just that — a handwritten invitation to something secret. The Winnipeg-based singer-songwriter was bearing her soul; like Phoebe Bridgers or Julien Baker, Janzen's debut wasn't just a compilation of sad songs, it was a self-reflective memoir that grappled with topics such as mental health and religion. In just four songs, Interpersonal had personality and thematic importance that other emerging Canadian artists lack.
With her second EP, Shouting Matches, Janzen is once again delivering a lineup of introspective tracks that take Interpersonal a half step further. This time, she's backed by a full band, and although it's only been ten months, she seems older.
Opening track "New Mercies" was released late last year, providing a taste of what was to come. This song isn't just evidence of a higher production value, but also displays Janzen's coming of age. In "New Mercies," Janzen sings: "here lies the paradox, the shouting matches, silent God" which is a direct tie to the title track, "Shouting Matches."
There, Janzen continues her battle with God; she struggles with his omnicience and why he isn't helping her as she struggles with her mental health. "Melancholy's always got me right where it wants," she sings, "my voice hurts from starting shouting matches with God." And yet — just like "New Mercies" — the heaviness of this song is juxtaposed by its instrumental fullness.
Shouting Matches concludes with "Toronto," a ballad reminiscent of Interpersonal's nakedness. This song addresses a family member she assumedly no longer has a relationship with. "Toronto" is so beautiful in its simplicity, and yet so painful lyrically. "Toronto" proves Janzen to be an exceptional poet.
Shouting Matches holds so much promise for Janzen's future as an artist. It has the rawness and relatability that we've already heard from her, but this time it's amplified. If God isn't listening, we sure are. (Independent)