Robyn Ottolini - The But I'm Not Always Sad Either EP
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The But I'm Not Always Sad Either EP (Warner Nashville, 2021)

Robyn Ottolini

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

If the talented Canadian singer Robyn Ottolini makes it to the biggest stages someday, it's songwriting honesty that'll propel her there based on this four-song EP. Ottolini often writes about who we are behind the masks we wear, especially on a boozy night out. And she does it with good humor and empathy. On the best track, "Sincerely, Drunk Me", she's bolstering the spirit of a weepy girl in the ladies room. Or is she singing in the mirror? Maybe just in her own head? Does it matter? This self-penned number has a bouncy reggae rhythm alongside twangy banjo to keep the party spirit alive. "Hold Me Back" takes some of that "Ballroom Blitz" energy to warn the guy stepping out on her friend that it's not appreciated. One definitely gets the impression that Ottolini is a fun cocktail companion (or will send you home with a story).

The rest of the set is sweeter. "Tell you Everything" is a big pop-country belter swinging for the radio fences. Trying so hard can be a little trying, so the other songs do work better. The closer ("Daddy's Daughter") is that love letter every father would love to get from their evermore baby girl. Ottolini can sing with range, going raucous to this aw-shucks number. One notable trait in the production is Ottolini often supports herself, either as a backup singer or speaking counterpoints to what's being sung. It would help in future releases to show a little more thinking outside of the recording booth for sonic ideas. But this is a still-young lady that represents her generation and its new country beats well.

On a consumer note, you may also want to explore the companion to this record ("The I'm Not Always Hilarious EP"), which features a few more love-lost tunes than this happier set. It's not a bad gimmick. Maybe record stores should start cataloging by mood.

CDs by Robyn Ottolini

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