The title of Katie Toupin‘s debut EP evokes a kind of fantastical vision of a faraway land full of adventure and excitement. Instead, it’s the name of the recording studio in Los Angeles where the record was recorded live-truly an adventure in it’s own right. This is a confident and passionate performance of Toupin’s first new music since departing from indie rockers Houndmouth in 2016.
Now able to step out in front and display her talents without being referred to as “the girl in the band,” Toupin doesn’t miss a single opportunity to prove her worth. The vocals on every track are phenomenal, considering they’re all done in one take. In particular, her voice on “Boys Will Be Boys” walks a fine like between pop and country. It reminds me of Petula Clark or Veronica Bennett with a little more grit and grime, kind of like Shilpa Ray. (Also, that opening reminds me of a song by Islands but I can not put my finger on it and it’s driving me crazy!)
Elsewhere on the EP Toupin stretches her pipes and reminds everyone why she was such an integral part of that Houndmouth sound-the harmonies with Brandon Walters on “I Want You Back” are one thing her former band will surely miss. Her songwriting strength comes out most when she’s plainspoken and sincere, like the EP closing track “Love Ain’t Giving Up.” She sings “I know you wanna hear the truth, so I’ll lay it out for you. Blue eyes and a crooked mouth eating candy on the couch. My eyes are for you, the light in the room.”
If you like well-written music that puts a personal touch on universal themes like love, loss, joy, and hope, you will enjoy Moroccan Ballroom. Toupin self-released the EP, but it’s available digitally and on CD (vinyl sold out quickly). Get it here. It’s also streaming in all the usual places.
A short tour is happening this month. Shows will occur in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York City, and Chicago. Check out her website for the details.