In the post-Phoebe Bridgers indie landscape, confessional songwriting has become the standard, and the more gut-wrenching the better.
But what gets lost in this chase for authenticity is what makes confessional songs actually great — the ability for a songwriter to find new ways into their experiences, to understand them in such a profound and fresh way that it can help us to understand ourselves.
This is exactly the rare insight that Tinge has been able to capture on its debut EP, Big Deep Sigh.
Tinge is a Winnipeg-based band fronted by Anishinaabe singer-songwriter and lead guitarist Veronica Blackhawk, originally from Lake of the Woods, Ont., alongside two old friends from high school, drummer Lincoln Brown and bassist Jordan Tait.
Blackhawk started writing songs at an early age, though it took a while for them to find their current band and sound.
“I moved around quite a bit, and then eventually once I came back to Winnipeg to settle back into school and stuff, I set up the plan to do a release,” Blackhawk explained.
The plan for the EP brought the band to Adam Fuhr’s House of Wonders studio, and eventually led the band to sign with his record label of the same name.
On their first meeting, Fuhr was ambivalent about adding anybody new to the label’s roster. However, upon hearing Tinge’s material he changed his tune.
“It was like midway through, he asked me what my plan was and I was just burnt out and hopeless at that point,” Blackhawk said.
“I was just planning to throw it up online and like a Bandcamp thing, and I was going to move to Toronto and just not have anything set up for the release.”
“[Fuhr] convinced me that it was good music and it deserved to have more of a platform, and that he could offer that through House of Wonders.”
The resulting five-song EP is a mix of pointedly observant and relatable lyrics, loud-quiet-loud dynamics and some unexpectedly virtuosic emo guitar flourishes from Blackhawk. The production is clean and unadorned, leaving the band’s dynamics with room to shine.
Blackhawk said that the songs on Big Deep Sigh were picked out of a much larger batch to display the band at its most fully formed, diverse and intensely personal.
In fact, personal songwriting is very important to Blackhawk.
“I think it makes you stand out as an artist, when you are able to reach and define the depths of what you’re going through a little more,” they said. “I think everybody goes through things at a similar degree, it’s just finding ways to describe it.”
For Blackhawk, writing takes a place of private importance as a space to better understand themself, but they hope that the songs will speak to others in their universality.
Blackhawk took inspiration from Julien Baker, particularly an affecting first encounter with the song “Sprained Ankle.”
“It’s a really hard lyrical thing, like she’s just really real and really honest and with herself,” they explained. “And in that sense, it was my first time seeing somebody talk about mental health and addiction and perfectionism in the sense that she did.”
Blackhawk hopes listeners can get a similar experience out of Tinge’s music.
“I hope that they’re able to connect with themselves in a depth that isn’t necessarily easy but is needed work,” they said. “It’s hard to deal with your mental health, but coming through with art and music it’s a lot less challenging.”
Big Deep Sigh is available to stream on major platforms and for purchase at tingetheband.bandcamp.com.