Material: Amanda Rose Riley’s songs are familiar, revealing a darkness behind her sweet sounding voice and guitar. There is a sadness beneath the warm songs, which makes listening a little distressing. Both chordally and melodically, they fall a little flat. The choices seem too safe for the kind of indie music Amanda seems to want to create. As such, her songs themselves become a little samey after a while. More daring melodies and some more interesting chord changes as well as some more natural sounding lyric choices would make a huge difference. Some of the indie darlings of today make use of very interesting arrangements (see Jack Stauber, WILLOW, Renee, etc.) to make otherwise simplistic songs more compelling. Riley might benefit from studying some of the musicians she hopes to embody.
Musicianship: The artist’s voice sounded great during this set; she hit all of the notes she intended to hit. However, due to the material's shortcomings, her musicianship feels a little stale or basic. Each song was in the same key as well as using the same chords, which was distracting enough that the musicianship took a back seat. As mentioned above, talent and skill are great but become useless if the material isn’t strong. Riley doesn’t need to work on her musicianship; it doesn’t need to be the focus until the songs are in the right place. Getting those pieces together will make the musicianship stand out even more.
Performance: There was more talking than was necessary in the set, which made the performance seem like Amanda suffered from a lack of confidence. It seemed rambling, or unrelated. More like she was playing a set in her bedroom than for a live set for an audience. The downtime between songs made for a sleepy sort of performance in which it was easy to lose focus and stop paying attention. This very digital year is a setback for musicians who don’t enjoy being on camera, but that doesn’t mean that performance quality needs to suffer. It’s still crucial to come through with energy and professionalism.
Summary: Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of unique material in Riley's set. Going forward, her first step is definitely to figure out how to make the melodies more compelling. If the lyrics are meant to be the focal point in the song, Riley needs to do some reflection and study artists that she admires. Starting there and making the songs truly compelling will do wonders for her artistry.