If you’ve spent any time on the internet over the last decade—or have spiraled down a YouTube rabbit hole once or twice—you’ve more than likely stumbled upon Dodie Clark.
Soft-spoken, with an inviting lilt. Endearingly sweet and honest. Clark—musically stylized as dodie—has been posting charismatic ukulele covers and effecting piano originals online since 2011.
From her cover of The 1975’s “Somebody Else,” rendered heartbreaking in its own raw beauty on piano, to a giddy ukulele mashup of 2014’s best Top 40 bops, dodie exists—and has existed for quite some time—at this intersection of candor and lightness. She asks you to trust her, if only for a single song; she invites you to feel something along with her, if only for a sonic moment.
And this is the ground on which dodie’s latest EP, “Human,” finds its footing.
The hallmark traits of dodie’s sound are all here: her genuine tone, which tilts into a head voice that, on occasion, is so soft it borders on a whisper. As though she is simply asking you to just lean in a bit more, because we’re all friends here. The gentle strings of a ukulele, the assured piano, the harmony in precisely layered vocals—it’s all here!—and it all swirls together like creamer in a morning cup of coffee.
“Human” is marked by small moments coming together, much as they do in life. A collection of confessional emotion and sincere snapshots of experience, the EP speaks to—and perhaps, at times, for—the commonalities that serve as the undercurrent of humanity.
There’s a tenderness in that reality, and in the vulnerability of songs collected. But there’s also a somberness to them as well. Because to be vulnerable is to, at times, be painfully aware of the realism at work in life. To know how things swell and crest, peak and collapse—much like a churning sea—and much like the cello and violin present throughout the EP, but most notably aching on the restrained, closing track: “Burned Out.”
And it is in this realm of shared vulnerability and realism—in the ups and downs of living—that “Human” succeeds.
Beginning with a faint, yet deep inhale—a remarkably human moment, don’t you think?—the first song on the EP, “Arms Unfolding,” is an a cappella track that places Clark’s lilting vocals just above a distant, fuzzy hum. It’s short and sweet, and entirely sure of itself.
This gentle lament of finding each other again also functions like a thesis statement—let’s embrace that which makes us whole, no matter how messy the individual pieces may be—and is buoyed by the sincerity gathered within the lyrics: “But here I am with arms unfolding / I guess it isn't quite the end / Old partner in crime, I'm going to try / To fall in love with you again.”
What is more human than trying again? Than trying to be better, or trying to get it right the second time around (or the third or fourth or fifth)?
There's a genuine familiarity—in wanting to be understood, or validated, or loved, or better—tucked inside the songs of “Human.” And it is this feeling that colors other tracks on the EP, as well.
“She” shimmies along strings nearly crooning in their sincerity: the cello and violin swell beneath a kind bass that bobs within the impossibility of the love in question. The title song, “Human,” featuring Tom Walker, marches along a line of hushed percussion which calls to mind those moments in which you find yourself acutely aware of your own heartbeat.
With its sweet-tempered dose of swing and effervescence, “If I’m Being Honest” showcases Clark’s vocals, as she dives in and out of high notes with something close to that of a balloon on a summer’s breeze: which is to say, refreshingly light and carefree.
And while the EP certainly doesn’t shy away from embracing the quiet moments we find in our honest introspections, it doesn’t define itself by those slowly moving parts, either.
“Not What I Meant,” featuring Lewis Watson, is a quick burst of ukulele. And “Monster,” an entire romp of a tune, brims with so much sound so delightfully juxtaposed to the lyrics, it is impossible to sing “you think I’m a crazy bitch” without a slight smile.
And that is life: a collection of small moments and pieces—both beautiful and messy and occasionally juxtaposed—moving together in some manner of cohesion. And all of the small moments found on “Human” come together so sweetly, the cohesion is nothing short of satisfying.
From reconciliation—“Arms Unfolding”—to the overwhelming magnitude of a new crush—“If I’m Being Honest”—dodie’s third EP carries the torch of her earlier releases, building upon the sound she’s carved for herself, without repeating previous patterns. Instead, “Human” is a continuation of the things that are soft, and sweet—but not without their teeth, mind you—and endearingly honest. In a world that asks for sharper edges, “Human” blurs the focus and asks you to strip back the veneer and be gentle: both with yourself, and with others.
Dodie’s latest EP, “Human” is just that: entirely human.
Stand out tracks: “Monster,” “Human,” “If I’m Being Honest”
Rating: 4 out of 5
Ashley Cline is an avid introvert and full-time carbon based life form currently living in south Jersey. Since graduating from Rowan University with her Bachelor's in Journalism, she can usually be found singing show tunes to her dog, drinking too much iced coffee and wearing beanies. Her personal best at all-you-can-eat sushi is five rolls in eleven minutes. You can find her yelling about Carly Rae Jepsen on Twitter and posting photos of her dog on Instagram.