ALBUM REVIEW | TORIA SUMMERFIELD - PLANET X
Long overdue review of the talented lo-fi/alt-r&b artist Toria Summerfield’s debut release, Planet X.
Toria Summerfield is making waves in the Saskatoon indie music scene, and rightly so. With her obsucre vocal patterns and talented writing ability paired up with local producer Riley Deacon’s style we get a sound that is new to the city and new to loads of people in general. Their ability to create an atmosphere around each song is incredible and one can easily find themselves drifting from one of her songs to the next in an enjoyable trance. Planet X is Toria’s debut release and it is jaw-droppingly good. There are so many playful sounds and unique instances that this album will stand out amongst other albums of the same genre. Although, I am a few months late, this album is definitely worth a listen and I couldn’t keep it off the blog.
“Young” is the first track that got me hooked on Toria’s interesting vocal style. Her ability to capture your mind as you listen is wonderful especially in songs like this one. This song is about young love and being tangled in a mess of feelings and uncertainty about another’s commitment to a relationship amidst one-night stands and quick hang outs referenced as “he only comes by when he wants to get high”. The second verse is a trip as you can notice changes in vocal effects as she releases each line. “Young” carries a melancholy vibe which is fitting considering the context. The production accentuates the correct areas and really makes the opening track an enjoyable listen. A little bit more playful, “Girls (Mind)” shows off more of Toria’s ability to create multiple feelings of sadness and joy simultaneously. With the long drawn out syllables at the end of some of the lines we get a sense that they trail off and vanish into nothingness, or an empty space that isn’t disturbed by everything else that goes on in her mind. In this song and the next I see a common theme of putting money before personal desires and really on the grind of trying to make it something she is passionate about. The bridge and outro really gave me a feeling of darkness and hint of loneliness that might come along with putting your passion first and letting other things fall by the wayside. At this point the album picks up and we get a bit more energy from the production as well as Toria herself. In “Butterfly”, Toria seems to make a point of establishing her comfort and dominance in putting her work as an artist first on top of what I mentioned in the last track. Success and money are her main motivations and if she is able to “mooch” in a sense or play a man to get what she wants (like some new Timbs), it only aids in her opportunity to focus on her craft instead of elsewhere. The song breathes strength and commitment to her goals and won’t let a man get in the way of that. I find that this is positive reinforcement to the fact that it’s “2018 boys, girls are on the scene”. In terms of production I find this song to be unique and playful in attempt to maybe add a bit of light-heartedness to the song.
The distorted guitar along with Toria’s more intense cadence place “Fool’s Paradise” into a more aggresive space than the rest of the album. It is about having trusted someone in a relationship only to be disappointed. Toria found herself being the “other girl” wondering how much the relationship even meant to him and whether or not he would still continue things with her. She feels embarassed and like a fool as she goes back and forth between wanting to have nothing to do with this guy but can’t seem to let him go. “Cherry Pie” ends up feeling more like an interlude in the project with some ukulele and simple production. The song gives off a sweet’n’salty vibe with mentions of ice cream and bubble gum while still representing the the emotions of a break-up song. At this point in the album I am enjoying the versatility of her songwriting and her ability to bring you into each track to feel the emotion that was intended. “Bones” is super cool. I love the effect on the vocals that succeeds in creating a much darker atmosphere with the deep keys in the background. Toria has a lot of drawn out vowels in this song that at times sound so spooky but also mesmerizing. There is a couple moments in this next track where her singing stands out as the only thing you should be paying attention to and it is amazing. “Stop Leavin’” is the closing track on the album and it is truly beautiful. Her harmonies throughout are perfect and the multiple contradictions that are laced throughout the song fit the context so well, while creating and interesting dynamic. I find that this song carries a similar narrative to “Fool’s Paradise” where she finds herself being the other girl as she battles between being okay with waiting waiting for him and wanting nothing to do with him. She wants to make it clear that she is on hold for him in a way to possibly steal him back.
Overall, Planet X is an amazing project to come out of Saskatoon, let alone the rest of Canada as Toria really displayed a lot of emotion and talent throughout the album that it would be interesting to hear anything else that sounds similar and feel the same way. The production is on point and really enforces Toria’s strong-points as a vocalist and songwriter. I really think that this project came from Toria’s heart and that her intentions with each song will continue to ring true to her listeners and speak honestly about young love, confusion, and focusing on an artistic career.