SMI Music Preview: Planes On Paper – The East End Session EP

planes on paper

Sweetness, intimacy, and delicate harmonies permeate The East End Session, the debut EP from Planes on Paper, which consists of Navid Eliot (vocals, guitar) and Jen Borst (vocals). Recorded live at the Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, this quiet group of songs plays out as a cohesive, stark showcase of pure, unadulterated song craft. I have often listened to music that I’ve thought of as being deceptively simple. And though these songs feature just a guitar and two voices that don’t clamor for attention, there is no doubt from the first listen that a lot of hard work went into getting each little part just right, from the shape of the hands over the strings to the tenuous timbre of two voices joining as one.

The results here are songs that are beautiful without falling into the easy trap of pop-hookiness. On ‘Day Alone’ when Navid and Jen sing “one for my sister, one for my brother, and one for love” as a chorus, it fits in perfectly with the rest of the complex yet smoothly flowing lyrics without fighting for supreme attention. ‘Wolves’ is quietly plaintive; the harmonies evoke a still, cold night; the howl of the wolves not sounding so much terrifying as sad and lonely. ‘Zero Winter’ sounds like a frozen, gray day with snow crusted on the ground…only it’s inside a broken heart. The guitar on this song reminds me of the wind-whipped tundra, stripped bare, yet resilient. This segues into ‘Zero Summer,’ a return to pale warmth and sun on the face, and the guitar gambols once again through golden grass and love is reawakened.

Photo By Xander Deccio

Photo By Xander Deccio

This is music that sketches out emotions and makes you feel them. The songs quietly demand your attention; their place is in your head, not at a dinner party and probably not even driving. They’re too fragile and shimmering for traffic. But isn’t it worth it to take that time out, close your eyes, and let the notes sink into your flesh? With Planes On Paper, the answer is yes.

Listen to ‘Day Alone’:

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Christine Mitchell has been poring over album liner notes pretty much since she acquired the skill of reading, and figured out the basic structure of rock songs at an early age. Whether it’s the needle popping into the first groove of the record, the beeps that signal the beginning (or end) of a cassette tape, or digital numbers ticking off the seconds from zero, music brings Christine happiness, ponderous thought, opportunities for almost scientific study, and sometimes a few tears. When she started attending live shows two decades ago, a whole new piece of the puzzle clicked in and she has been hooked ever since.