Review: Sykamore – California King EP

It is not often that an accidental discovery leads to a new favourite artist. However, that is exactly what happened in the case of the discovery of ‘California King’ the EP from Canadian artist Sykamore (Jordan Ostrom). California King is the second EP release from the Alberta grown, and now Nashville-based, artist and is an evolution on her 2018 release Self + Medicine. Released under the direction of Music Knox Records, the 5-track is an auricular sensation perfect for an easy-listening session, or for those starting to explore the world of the country-pop genre crossover.

Record High leads the charge for the extended play as a track which is immediately stunning. Blending country tones almost seamlessly with popular music rhythm and melody, helped along by the brilliant production from Michael Knox, the track is a perfect introduction to the genre for even the most country adverse individuals. Written in collaboration with Bobby Hamrick and Jeff Cohen, the track features lyrics such as “Turn the volume up/Alone in my headphones, I can let go” which evidently describes the ‘high’ many individuals receive from using music as a medicine. Key to the tracks hard hitting nature is not only the lyrical descriptions developed by Ostrom and collaborators but also the innate high the track also produces within the listener; as per the title of the track.

Where to Find Me follows the lead of Record High continuing with the country-pop sensibilities. Leading the charge with a pedal-steel guitar paired perfectly with an electric guitar riff, which remained firmly engrained in my mind days after initially listening to the track, Where to Find could be the perfect radio friendly track to push Ostrom to the upper echelons of stardom. Leading the hypothetical lyrical charge with an immediately relatable “Downtown, whisky sours at twenty past five/Day’s done, I don’t know how I survived.” this is the most lyrically potent track of the EP.

Slowing the pace of the collection is Out of Luck with a sonically pleasing piano leading the melody. Despite slowing the pace of the EP, the track continues to build on the listening pleasure of the extended play. The production brilliantly includes subtle nods of guitar intertwined with the melodic grand piano and with a sprinkling of brass and arpeggiated string. It can be described as an almost perfect example of not only how to produce a track, but also how to perform incredibly strong vocally. This track is a brilliant example of how to perfect your style and sound in such a matter that the track is unique and accessible to all listeners.

The EP title track rides the wave towards the final track of the EP. Blending the melodic piano of Out of Luck, the track eloquently describes the egotistical nature of some ‘California Kings’. A power track for those unlikely enough to have been in the company of those who “think that I’ll free-fall” and the classic “James damn Dean” wannabes. Brilliant lyrics coupled with a strong bassline and the vocal prowess of Ostrom lead to a great penultimate track which makes way for the final track of the EP.

Last but by no means least is ‘Local Singles’ a feel-good track which explores the life of being single. The production provides an air of excitement and enjoyment with lyrical storytelling such as “We keep the neon flowin’ in those “Cold Beer” signs/We’re the reason they don’t roll the streets up at night” leading to a sense of joy. A track written to end the EP on a high, it surely does that with grace. It surely makes the listener want to join the fun and decorum of the ‘Local Singles’.

All in all, the EP is a powerful development for Ostrom who is quickly building a reputation not only for incredible songwriting, but also for being able to develop a powerful and unique sound which rivals even the greatest of artists.

1. Record High
2. Where to Find Me
3. Out of Luck
4. California King
5. Local Singles

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