Ambient Jersey Shore acoustic trio Originaire will perform the tales of addiction and recovery featured on their debut EP, “Off the Ship,” March 27 at Singer-Songwriter Cape May Festival. PHOTO BY SARAH FITZPATRICK
If you like pretty, pining folk music, then talented Jersey Shore threesome Originaire will be your cup of tea. They make hauntingly ambient music that is gorgeous but suffers from a lack of self-editing and/or an experienced producer. At times overindulgent, their four-song debut EP, “Off the Ship,” is based on the addictions and recoveries of singer-songwriters CiBon and Ken Shiles, who also handsomely strums and picks guitar.
The opening title track is exquisite and one of the best songs released by an indie Jersey act so far this year. The duet is as powerful as it is lovely, especially CiBon’s otherworldly vocals and fantastic fiddler Valerie Vuolo’s beautiful bowing. “Off the Ship” is the Makin Waves Song of the Week, which can be heard 5 and 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and midnight on thepenguinrocks.com and 6:45 p.m. on Friday and Monday on the station’s “Radio Jersey” show.
The rest of the EP is good but a letdown in comparison. The similarly beautiful “The Clearing” suffers from over length with a concluding redundancy that nearly ruins the otherwise strong, yet serene track. The repetitiveness unexpectedly works, however, forcing home the realization that the addict actually wants to be saved rather than left alone to self-destruct.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for “Driftwood,” which would have been a brilliant look at the hope of returning home to loved ones in the wake of an overdose if the last minute and a half wasn’t so morosely monotonous. A good producer would have faded the seven-minute, 30-second acoustic number at the six-minute mark as an effect in relation to the protagonist’s sense of fading away. Instead, Ken repeats that sentiment over and over again to the point of ruining the power of his message. At least he has the abundantly beautiful talent of CiBon and Valerie to keep his singer-songwriter ship from going completely off course.
After three very melancholy tracks, I was hoping the closer would be more upbeat, but instead it’s an instrumental refrain of “The Clearing,” which also goes on about a minute too long, weakening the strength it could have had. And again, CiBon, channeling a gorgeous-sounding ghost, and Valerie, bowing like an ancient muse, uplift the track from its overindulgence.
Before they head out on a late summer/fall tour, Originaire already are back in the studio recording a follow-up to “Off the Ship.” I hope they take my advice and hire a producer with a discerning ear because the results will be brilliant and completely fulfilling. Who knows? Perhaps they’ll get lucky, and a producer will be in the audience of their March 27 performance at Singer Songwriter Cape May Festival.