It has been nearly 5 years since Vernon Noronha’s last EP, a period that was followed by a lull barring a collaborative effort with Raghav Meattle. Now, in the aftermath of the pandemic season, Noronha is back with a three-track EP that bears testimony to the fact that the singer/songwriter believes in quality over quantity.
The EP is minimalistic in instrumentation and warm in its atmospheric tones, and is probably what we needed from an acoustic compilation in these times of uncertainty. The central theme of Winds and the Murky Seas can be interpreted as hope. The title can perhaps be seen as signifying the winds of change that one would face after the murky seas, the calm that one would face after the storm.
With soothing guitar plucking and an ambient vocal energy, Noronha opens the EP with a track aptly christened as Peak of Sunshine. It’s clear to figure out that here too, the singer relies on a nature metaphor as he dwells on how sunshine would follow cloudy days of gloom.
The acoustic nature of the first track is then somewhat repeated in the final one titled Who Am I Writing These Songs For. Now, the words are obviously different between the two as the latter deals with the artist’s constant thoughts on who even is listening on the other side. However, with such a profound thought, one could have wished for a more different sound. Rather, he incorporates the same country/folk style finger pattern as Peak of Sunshine to the point that both sound like extensions of a longer song.
While such similarities are excusable in a thematic EP such as this, it still adds to a slight monotony (especially given how Winds and the Murky Seas merely comprises of three tracks). The middle track is however pretty fresh while also incorporating some familiar yet harmonica-driven tropes.
Probably the best track in the release, Empty Teacups is a song about finding oneself after a phase of setbacks (a clear allusion to the pandemic). Considering the new releases in the indie pop scene, it’s pretty safe to say that “discovering hope in uncertainty” has become quite a cliche in the post-pandemic era. So, even though some viewers might find the lyrics to charter a “I heard that before” territory, Vernon Noronha’s hushed-down vocals and bittersweet guitaring helps in setting the song apart.
Especially with Empty Cups, Noronha seems to be reminiscent of similar feel-good acoustic artists like Mikey McCleary (especially his album TV Dinners) and the aforementioned Raghav Meattle. All in all, Winds and the Murky Seas offers him a good opportunity to present his indiefolk positivity. There might be a few setbacks but it’s still a welcome comeback to form for him.
Verdict: A reassuring and feel-good set of three tracks.