A veteran YouTuber, Kina Grannis has been one of the original voices of stripped pop music covers. With four albums released since 2010, Grannis has continually drafted music of organic origins; her sound mixes with the soil and begins to sprout. “Elements” is the culmination of ever-maturing seeds of sweet and thoughtful songwriting.
There’s no other way to put it: “Elements” is just lovely. The album incorporates soft forest imagery, as nature drizzles rays of sunlight through the canopy of trees. The leading track, “Dear River,” is a coursing, sweet song that reflects on those moments of love that collide at just the right time, or slip out of reach. Grannis’ lyrics riddle at the ends, while still capturing familiar feelings. You might not know what every line means, but you can feel them clearly.
“The Fire” is about the sparks, good and bad, that kindle between two people learning to join their lives together. “My Dear” is the most darling of all, as Grannis’ voice is quietly dazzling, her vocals layered translucently beautiful like the veil of a bride. Indeed, the music video for the song features her wedding to fellow artist and companion Jesse Epstein (of Imaginary Future). Grannis’ voice is pure, inflecting her music with a true quality.
Notes of sadness, are found in “Winter” where Grannis’ voice twines on to a lilting guitar. Her impossibly gentle, words will break your heart. “How do you know when it’s over,” she sings, “I have been with it since winter … Waiting for love like it’s water.”
“Oh Father” has more gristle, exploring the age-old father figure struggle with wonder, frustration, and resignation, Grannis realizes, “All along, you will be the one that I’ll become.”
“Little Worrier” confirms the guitar is an organ of the heart. Grannis’ softly crooning voice is like that of a mother’s, brushing away the hair from a child’s head. Even when the album is at its most bare, it remains irreplaceably precious, like something homemade, in the same vein as the duo Alex & Sierra.
“Maryanne” is a dance of fireworks in the sky. Speaking of true loves and past loves, the song is clear, beautiful, and revelatory. “This Far” bookends the album, returning to nature for the answers. Even as rain pours down, the overriding emotion is relief, or the blissful reprieve after a long, meandering journey. Having traveled from the tops of the Earth to the inner soul, we are now fundamentally bonded to Grannis, at the atoms of our being, as basic as elements.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.