Danielle Sum gives praise to softness in each song on her debut EP.
Even before pressing play on Danielle Sum’s debut EP, its softness is palatable. On the cover, Sum is photographed with tulle draped delicately across her face like a filter to diminish the harsh world. And the EP’s title, Still, Softness, reads like Sum’s mission statement: despite all of the dissonance, still, I will find softness.
When you do eventually press play, you will find that Still, Softness is not only soft but hymnic. Sum, a classically trained percussionist and member of the all-star Toronto band Tiger Balme, d uses gentle, orchestral folk to do so. At times, the EP feels like witnessing a non-denominational prayer or meditation. Playing guitar and marimba alongside violin (Aubrey Tham) and cello (Rosalind Zhang) accompaniment, Sum wraps herself in the sonic equivalent of George Costanza’s Gore-Tex coat and she’s impervious to coarseness. The tenderness of love (“Heart of Hearts”) and the sky’s offerings (“What The Sunflowers See”) feel miraculous and even when Sum is faced with the unknown like on opener “Through The Open Door,” she dives in anyway, “and it is so deep,” a description that reminds me of sinking into a fluffy pillow.
On “Softness,” Sum gives listeners a glimpse into the journey that led to her devotion. The grind and exhaustion that is coupled with getting up and facing each and every day — “the weight of everything,” as Sum sings — left her weary. But instead of occupying a pit of despair, Sum has chosen gratitude and hope. “May there be healing in ways unseen,” Sum sings. “so our soft bones one day, may yet again breathe.”
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