Today, Cali/Aussie singer-songwriter Lauren Tarver— professionally known as El Tee— released her debut album, Everything Is Fine. With her chocolatey vocals, lovelorn lyrics, and twinkly guitar, El Tee is certainly cut from the same cloth as Julia Jacklin, Lucy Dacus, Adrianne Lenker, et al. Name a buzzworthy, quiet-yet powerful, beautifully-blurred-guitar-backed, female singer-songwriter, El Tee is a bird of a feather.
One standout track on the new record is “I Don’t Care,” an unflinching yet nonchalant takedown of a guy everyone on this Earth has definitely met. She begins the track with a clever reversal, singing, “You’re so well-read / So hard to read / You’re an artist, a good one, someone with a dream / I don’t care.” Tarver continues, “You say you have baggage / But hey so do we / So does everyone else, including me / I don’t care.” The chorus is the real kicker, with El Tee twisting the proverbial knife as she explains, “And I want to feel the way that I felt / When I’m loved by my friends and those I care about / I’m not chasing a feeling that I don’t know well / Without hesitation, I’m really too old for this.” El Tee truly turned her gaze on everyone who has ever confused being emotionally unavailable with being complicated and shuts them the fuck down.
The rest of Everything Is Fine can be intense– on track “Inside,” I got a veritable shiver down my spine when El Tee sang, “Have you ever spoke to God / Or told him those things / You wanted / Well they may or may not / Come true if all goes right / If all goes wrong / He won’t be there to help you along.” A few songs can be incredibly specific, requiring listeners’ full attention– on the eponymous “Everything Is Fine,” the artist brings us on a car trip home from Christchurch South, where confusing details and emotions are woven together. In the end, this debut is (perhaps paradoxically) optimistically fatalistic– on closing “Good,” she muses, “Maybe I am who I wanted to be / Maybe I’m just not that good / Well I feel like the ending is near / And I know everything will be alright.” Everything Is Fine is difficult, touching, and beautifully done (hats off to the production by engineer Andrew McEwan and mastering by Adam Dempsey). Still, it’s nice that between these moments of morbidity and malaise, El Tee can still find a moment to remind us all that even artsy fartsy men ain’t shit. Take a listen to the new record now– the perfect record to spin as the seasonal depression kicks in. Like, in a good way. Just listen to it. It’s great.