Tia McGraff has amassed, keeps, and continues to expand on a dedicated following of fans around the world and their admiration has allowed her to enjoy commercial success throughout the world. Her latest EP release With Love met the world on September 3rd, a specially chosen day commemorating the passing of her much-loved dog Jake and has already built a substantial following based on its first single “Go Your Own Way”. The remaining six songs included on the EP measure up to the single’s excellence and showcase a singer or songwriter working in peak form.
Each of the tracks has a fully realized sound/ McGraff’s writing for the EP explores the low-volume acoustic side of the musical spectrum, but several scattered moments and passages boast authoritative drums and a much fuller sound. The title song introduces listeners to the EP’s essential template, a mix of folk/rock with straight-ahead traditional music, and sometimes peppered with additional modern instrumentation. You finish the song confident that you’re in great hands for the remainder of With Love.
Synthesizers and keyboards are utilized for color, but the piano helps carry the song’s melodic load. “Clockwork” mixes the dramatic and lighter moments in McGraff’s musical arsenal without ever sounding predictable and a lot of that has to do with the superb way she puts her voice to use. McGraff’s phrasing can stand toe to toe with any top singer, but she has extra qualities elevating her above run of the mill – the theatricality she plays with, never heavy handed, adds plenty of feeling to “Clockwork”.
“Go Your Own Way” has a lot going for it, namely a snare drum that kicks the door in to begin the track, but the chorus packs a wallop as well. She sweetens the refrain with a great multi-part vocal without making the cut too saccharine and it also works well within the context of a dynamic song. “Go Your Own Way” has distinct movements that stand alone with great success but add up to a special single for this EP.
The love song lyricism of “Sometimes Love’s Like That” blends well with relaxed conversational writing. It does not sound stagy or overstated. People who “study” songwriters, who value the sort of thoughtful approach that is McGraff’s stock in trade, will appreciate the thoroughness of songs such as this. Each component dovetails nearly into the next and has an effortless feel that gives the performance a little extra spark.
“Organic” is a natural second single without sounding too much like its predecessor. They do explore some of the same common sonic ground, which is unavoidable, but a highlight of the EP is McGraff;s unending talent for varying her formula enough to keep the listeners’ interest high. The finale “Change A Comin’” shares a lot of the same overall lyrical point of view as the earlier cuts. Her tighter focus on the universality of the song’s subject matter is a great way to end With Love and leaves listeners longing for more.