Tara Kannangara 
Extraordinary People 

Self-released • 2024

Tara Kannangara goes all in on indie on her EP, Extraordinary People.

I came away from listening to Tara Kannangara’s new EP, Extraordinary People, wishing it had more tracks than the five listed here. The subject matter hits for any multi-racial kid growing up in Canada’s messy, predominantly white music scenes, and every track includes big, fun hooks. It’s a rewarding direction for Kannangara and Co. and an arena-sized sound we haven’t heard from her before. 

With Extraordinary People, Kannangara sheds the vestige of the jazz influence on her previous two records and embraces her rock leanings. The result is an EP that showcases focused and confessional songwriting with polished indie-pop production. Her voice sounds fuller and embodies some of the Mitski-style “ache” when she recites the frustrations of not fitting the white ideal on “Frank” (“I want to be Sarah / I want to be David / I want to be a stud who can do the splits”). The “Name Song” and “Lisa Turtle” similarly showcase a polished wit and playfulness to her writing that brings a fresh take on “being a woman caught between two worlds, never feeling like I quite fit into the Western culture I was raised in or the South-Asian culture I come from.”

It’s nice, of course, to still hear her soaring trumpet on the initial track, “Apartment,” and the raunchy solos of guitarist Matthew Fong. But they are both within the vocabularies of rock and show that Kannangara is entirely disinterested in showing off her horn chops this time around. You’ll find no Jazz harmonies here, and the drums and guitars get downright heavy

“Name Song” is a great tongue-in-cheek tease, resonating with anyone who doesn’t have an easy (read: “white”) name. Kannangara’s songcraft is playful, ominous, revealing, and full of hooks, and you can sense she’s having a lot of fun with these tracks. The dynamism of the EP makes sense when Kannangara remarks about the subject matter: “Ever since I was a child, I’ve yearned for the safety of “fitting in. But I also discovered (quite recently) that I actually enjoy standing out.” Personally, I can resonate with that experience of knowing that we never quite fit into the mould. It’s delightful to see the result of Kannangara celebrating her experience with such skill and aplomb.

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