REVIEW – Casey Burns, Let it Linger
By Alessandra Ametrano
’Cuz you know last I heard, last I heard – you was on stage with a piano or somethin’, singin’ like a little b****!
The above line of dialogue was drawn verbatim from the intro to ‘Pay it Back’, the second title on Casey Burns’ second EP, Let it Linger. It appears as part of an opening mini-monologue, in which an unidentified voice criticizes asks Casey about his heavy use of instrumental beats and notable lack of a DJ, at times on entire songs. Besides serving as a comic moment, the inclusion of this line in particular shows a impressive level of self-awareness, and beyond that, a near-Kanye level of confidence in what is obviously a drastic artistic choice. However a drastic choice is not necessarily a negative one.
The track list opens with Bon Voyage, an introduction featuring Casey’s own vocals and piano-heavy instrumental support. He starts to rap approximately a minute in, at which point the beat might be expected to devolve into something more typical, but instead he stays consistent – in terms of genre, this first track is ambiguous, but nonetheless impressive. Bon Voyage has an unapologetic tone, and is just dark enough to listen to in a bad mood without sacrificing progression into ‘Pay it Back’. ‘Pay it Back’ starts to adopt a more recognizable hip-hop aura, with Casey finally starting to go in over a mellow beat and leading into a dialogue with a deeper voice, satirizing the bridge from Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Baby Got Back in what turns out to be an underrated mid-intensity banger.
‘Rattle and Hum’ (prod. Downtownmusic) sounds like Toro Y Moi – in Let it Linger’s overall sound, it’s almost a sudden endpoint of the progression in instrumental tones through the first two tracks. It almost disappoints at the start by losing some of the conviction and just-edging-weird atmosphere that Bon Vogue and Pay it Back establish. That being said, the beat has immediate appeal and Casey retains his distinctive vocal style that serves as contrast to emphasize its subtle, glittery 90’s R&B moments. The Galimatias remix of Lingering Desires (where’s the original?) might open with a clip of a screaming Shia LaBeouf, but has a similarly smooth vibe to ‘Rattle and Hum’ with the addition of a piano interlude. It trails the rest of the track list in Soundcloud plays, but likely more due to its placement than anything else, being an easy EP standout.
Seasonal Poise is the unexpected highlight of Let it Linger, running off momentum into an upbeat, grooving Earl Sweatshirt-reminiscent track. Instrumental use on this track especially shows a huge return, incorporated by BluntedBeatz. With the underlying beat’s continuity, the ending came as a surprise, but Casey’s adapted vocals were easily good enough to have been extended or used a minute earlier, in the middle of the track.
On ‘The Sigh of a Skeptic’, Downtownmusic finds his stride in a rewardingly laid-back beat that well supports Casey’s lyrical standout track on Let it Linger. He speaks directly to the other half of a past relationship, almost chronological in how he reflects on what went wrong before a cathartic peak at the halfway point, then moving into realization of what he wants to happen later. TSOS returns to the same self-awareness of Pay it Back, but from a much more reflective, visibly emotional angle, hoping she can make it to his show, promising to ‘prove it to [her]’. Casey’s references to his own shows and an early-stage fan base add dimension, and help avoid the trap that many up-and-coming Soundcloud rappers (starting appearances with ‘Ight y’all already know who this is’) – often fall into.
Let it Linger is a fitting name, and seems resemblant of its sound. Having transitioned into rap from different projects, Casey’s EP shows multi-genre influence and appreciation, plus a great deal of skill on his part. Self-awareness, unintentional or not, is present throughout the project, and gives listening the same quality of connection that felt when Kanye West says ‘I love you like Kanye loves Kanye’ on his like-named Life of Pablo track. Let it Linger is one of multiple testaments from the start of 2016 to now on the scope of Toronto rap, and I highly recommend it.
If you finish the EP and are looking to hear more, you can his videos and music on his website (https://www.caseyburnsmusic.com).