Newcomer Sevi Ettinger found musical inspiration in an unlikely source - the Syrian refugee crisis. Just 15, the American singer, who lives in Shanghai with her family, channeled the anguish she felt for the victims into the lyrics of her debut single, "Salty Water," a song that also serves as the title of her new EP.
Ettinger wrote the song using an app on her phone and caught the attention of songwriter Phillip Jarrell, who played it for Grammy Award-winning producer Jeff Bova, who liked the track as well. The pair agreed to work with Ettinger in the studio, helping her craft her EP, which was mastered by audiophile favorite Bernie Grundman.
The result is a collection of songs that straddle the line between modern (She did write a song using a phone app, after all) and classic pop. In spite of her age, this is no teen pop music. Ettinger shows a maturity, not only in her lyrics but also her songwriting not often present in performers her age.
The title track features a stark opening with piano and bass drums accompanying Ettinger's unique vocal deliver. Ettinger is not afraid, both here and throughout, to mix old and new musical styles to form something entirely different. On "Live," a bluesy acoustic guitar intro is quickly joined by trippy sounding keyboards and an echo-drenched vocal from Ettinger. The song's lyrics have a positive message about living strong and Ettinger delivers them with conviction.
Ettinger gives a breathy vocal on the modern dance funk of "Don't Fall Behind." The song's dreamy backdrop showcases an artist who really doesn't sound like anyone else. The EP's closer "Eyes," is a pretty power ballad with a strong vocal that is borderline country. Ettinger effortlessly moves between genres in the EP's four tracks.
The Salty Water EP is an intriguing debut from Ettinger. If Ettinger is crafting music like this at the age of 15, the future is very bright for her indeed.