Jana Pochop is a folk/pop singer/songwriter from Austin, Texas and this EP Throats Are Quarries is her third, flawlessly produced by Daniel Barrett of the band porterdavis. Her music is a blend of traditional folk/country (and sometimes rock) with elements of the quirkier side of pop. Her dreamy vocals are somewhat reminiscent of Lisa Loeb, her lyrics mainly ruminations about life, some with a mystical edge that brings to mind someone like Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes.
The opening song of the EP ‘When Your Soul Leaves Your Body’ is one of these spiritually themed songs. If the title sounds portentous, the song itself is beautifully simple, and lines like ‘When your soul leaves your body, don’t hold onto the handle bars’ make death sound like an effortless and easy transition, and something to look forward to rather than fear. Not a commonplace topic for what is still essentially a pop song, but all the more interesting for it.
This song sets out her basic sound of slow-paced strummed acoustic guitars with minimal but always tasteful backing. Pochop’s distinctive vocals are placed up front which helps give her music a strong sense of personality. Second track ‘Throw You Forward’ has a similar lilting, dreamy pace with some nice instrumental touches like tubular bells. The theme of this song is love but dealt with in an inventive way lyrically: ‘You found the gateway drug, you called me beautiful’.
Next track ‘Deepest Fear’ is at a more brisk tempo and is about the numerous self-doubts that we all battle with: ‘My deepest fear is that my fears are not that deep, they are just simple things’. Instrumentally, this adds plucked banjo and some nice lead electric guitar into the blend.
‘Middle of My Chest’ is the rockiest track but still very much a pop song, some quirky background synths helping to modernize the sound. Lyrically, this track is perhaps the darkest, depicting inner turmoil and desperation: ‘The middle of my chest is betraying me, where is the heart, so I can stick the knife…”.
Closing song ‘Adore You’ returns to the more dreamy beginning of the EP, and features some lovely celesta-style descending melodies and a sparse but effective electronic beat. This one is the most conventional lyrically, but sidesteps clichés and the prosaic along with the other songs. Overall, this is an excellent EP without a single weak link. All the songs manage to juggle being commercial and ‘radio-friendly’ without ever being formulaic. I expect she will build a big cult following round the world.
Verdict: 8.3 out of 10