Ascension is the latest EP from rising star Sarah Kinsley. Kinsley first rose to prominence with her viral hit “The King”, which introduced audiences to her talented musicianship, soulful voice and melancholic aura. Kinsley, 22, is young but her self-written songs showcase the craftsmanship of a well-seasoned artist, which is somewhat of a rarity amongst the current class of rising stars, who (on average) prefer to focus on marketability rather than artistry.
Kinsley, who produces her own songs, creates an alluring sonic landscape on Ascension with her knack for finding chaos and beauty in the mundane. On TikTok, she shares bits of her process which show her using a glass bottle on her guitar and hitting random object in her apartment as pieces to her songs. She says what enthralls her the most is “sounds that are individually really bizarre” and how “their essence amongst the collective creates a sonic environment that is so captivating.”
Ascension opens up with “Oh No Darling!”, which is a song Kinsley coins as “sarcastic” and “mean” but also “silly”. She grapples with age, growing up and being stuck in the past. Kinsley creates an endless melody, subverting expectations of classic pop. It’s hard to predict where the song is going, without an arc and a natural conclusion, the listener expects more.
The second track, “Black Horse”, tackles the dichotomy of sanity versus insanity. The pre-chorus builds with layers upon layers of vocals, giving a rich texture to the song, which Kinsley points to as one of her proudest moments on the record.
On the title-track, Kinsley leans into her classically trained roots, incorporating strings into her execution. Oft deemed “too emotional”, Kinsley was chastised for being unwilling to conform to the rigidity of classical music, but now she embraces it. She adorns her songs with classical elements, such as strings in the background, which give her indie pop a timeless quality.
As an early single, “Lovegod” is a standout song on the EP with biting lyrics like “singing holy praises to an indifferent god”. It’s snarky, clever and dreamy. A wistful anthem for the lonely. She packages it all off with “Sliver of Time”, where you can hear uncanny hints of Mitski and Lana Del Rey, both of whom she often draws comparisons to in the comments section of her videos. Regardless, Kinsley remains a wholly original and gifted writer/producer.
Buket is recent graduate of the University of Georgia (Music Business Alum) and the current Editor-in-Chief of Vinyl Mag. She believes that a sincere lover of music can find something to like in just about any song. She loves to write to escape the grueling and mindless drudgery of late-stage capitalism. She is currently on a gap year abroad, spending her free time drumming up new ideas for Vinyl Mag and trying to beat her previous Spotify Wrapped "My Minutes Listened" record.