"Powerful" is the second EP issued by Tazmin Barnes. The first one "Trapped" achieved a top placing of No. 16 in the i-tunes pop charts in 2017. This one is more thoughtful, taking in empowerment, climate change, social attitudes and bullying. The lyrics are themselves powerful and extremely mature, especially having been written by a fifteen year-old. The earnest subject matter takes nothing away from the appeal of the music. The title song is introduced by a surge of low strings with pizzicato on violins, Tazmin then joins with a slow vocal before launching into the main song. The singer sees the obstacles ahead, but stirs up enough grit and determination within herself to forge ahead, not to be put off by naysayers but to stand her ground. The punchy beat throughout the refrain drives the music on at a pace but the verses are taken more slowly maximising the impact. The changes in tempo are as a result of the thought put into the production by Alex Hart.
Tazmin spent most of her early childhood in Beijing, where she became fluent in Mandarin. As well as being a child model, she and her brother were in a nationally known rock band which played in front 1,000 people at an international ice hockey match. When the family returned the UK in 2014 she joined the Big Help Academy and picked up her singing career again. Recently in 2017, as well as appearing at many festivals sharing the bill with the likes of Atomic Kitten, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Kim Wilde, and many others, she twice toured with Mary Jess the winner of the Chinese X-Factor. Future bookings for 2018 include, during the festival season, sharing a bill with Status Quo and others of their standing at the Upton Festival. She will also be appearing regularly at The Bear in Rugby and The Fusilier in Leamington. Two tracks of this EP have been selected for the Final of the UK Songwriting Contest (organised by the BRIT Awards)
"One Good Cure" The second track on the EP tackles social responsibility and takes a no-nonsense approach to the fact that you reap what you sow. Four lines encapsulate the message. "There's one good cure I can assure, for learning how to live, just think about what life is about, the best don't take, but give." The slightly "poppy" treatment of the music is designed to attract the teenage market, one can only hope they absorb the message of the song too. The up tempo arrangement produces a danceable track for those not able to realise the significance of the lyrics.
In my opinion the most compelling track on the EP is "Extinction". It is all about how our world is being affected through climate change. It mentions Polar Bears running out of ice in the arctic, failing forests, rising waters, increasing storms, dying coral etc. There is one verse which is particularly poignant: "The world is coming to an end, We're doing nothing about it, The big ones don't believe it, the small ones can't fight it." It is youngsters like Tazmin who will reap what we, the older generations have sewn. It seems certain that in the last fifty years of so we have done more damage to our planet than in all the previous centuries.
The track itself is a saddening litany of things that are happening to the Earth delivered in such a way that demands attention. There is a four to the bar beat almost throughout, which does not detract from the message, but rather emphasises the ticking clock. The final four lines are conveyed appropriately with fading strings as if dying out behind Tazmin's pleading vocal "It's not a silly tweet, or a political plea, it's real, it's happening right now, they just don't tell you how..."
"Tearing At My Tears" is a livelier track as if to leaven the message in the previous song., That said the subject is the torment inflicted one upon another. Tazmin's eye to sharp lyrics is once again portrayed in this song as the piano continues to vamp over heavy back beat. "Your voice is silent but scathing, you always seem to be there lurking in the shadows..." it tells the tale of a girl being emotionally abused by another, who cannot seem to resist mistreating her. In contrast to the message the music is animated to such a degree that the listener is easily distracted from the anger and sorrow of the lyrics.
I have known Tazmin's work for a couple of years now and have always been of the opinion that her live act is the best way to appreciate her talent. She is an exciting performer to watch, she cavorts around the stage whilst singing in such a way that captivates. These four tracks have forced me to reassess her capacity to observe what is happening around her. From a girl who mostly sang pop covers, Tazmin Barnes as emerged as being particularly aware of her surroundings and able to write conclusively about very adult themes. It is no accident that the initial letters of the track listing spell out the words P.O.E.T. In this disc she has demonstrated she is growing up.
|Hannah Read: Way Out I'll Wander||Lorna Dea: Comfort Zone|
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