As we, in this edition of the Anchorage Press, look forward to the forthcoming album from Ava Earl, it would also do some good to take a look back at her most recent album, 2018’s Am I Me Yet?.
Remember the summer of 2018? Billie Eilish had just released “you should see me in a crown”. Twenty One Pilots were making waves as they finally released their first singles in three years. And up here in the 49th state, then fifteen-year old Ava Earl, released her third studio album, asking the question that so many of us, at some point in our lives, ask ourselves, Am I Me Yet?
In a sea of happy-go-lucky pop music, this album stands out not for its exquisite balladry or hard-hitting beat, but instead for its exquisite realness and hard-hitting introspection. The album’s first track, “Vigilante" leaves no chance to get comfortable, instead throwing the listener into an entrancing song that leaves just enough of the context up to the listener that you have no choice but to put yourself into the situation. From then on, this songstress and her music are in the driver’s seat.
Whether you’re in your car on busy Dimond Boulevard in Anchorage, eating a sandwich on the side of a mountain in Kenai, or sitting in front of your fireplace watching the snowfall outside as you sip tea in Fairbanks, this album provides a perfect companion. The harmonies and riffs provide enough that it is a perfect low-engagement choice to be on on repeat in the background, and yet if you choose to sit down with this album with headphones and an hour of your time, you may realize that it needs not one, but two and possibly three listens to begin to capture all of what this album offers.
If I had to offer one word to describe this album (and my experiences with it), the only word I could possibly think to fit it would be “introspective”. Over and over again, Ava offers not just her own realizations about life, love, darkness, and light, but the open chance for the listener to explore their own life, their own mind, and their own experiences. While songs like “I’m Still There in the Dark” and “If I Cannot Fly” are upbeat and verge on dance-able to the casual listener, once you listen past that you capture moments of bare and open realness. Some music invites us to escape the depths of our minds. Some music invites us to explore it. Unconcerned with trending, Ava finds a way to be more real than much of what is “relevant” in pop music today. Her music speaks to darkness and doubt that so many people feel and may be too afraid to talk about, and yet she does it in a way that feels so open and authentic that it begs the question of why.
One might (and probably would) say that Ava’s musical and song-writing prowess is impressive for someone of her age. While they would technically be correct, they would be missing the point. Ava Earl’s song-writing abilities are just down right impressive. Age has absolutely nothing to do with it. Whether you’re fifteen or fifty, this album speaks right to the core of the human experience. Were a song like “March (3.24.18)” written by the likes of Lana Del Rey or Fiona Apple, it would have become an anthem. For now, Ava Earl remains one of Alaska’s hidden treasures. But something tells me, that won’t last forever.
Ava Earl is a local musician from Girdwood, Alaska. This album and her 2017, self-titled album ava earl are available to stream on YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music. Her website is avaearl.com. You can also find her on Instagram, @avaearlmusic. She is in Nashville this month to record her as yet untitled next album.