Bettencourt does fine work in the title track, too, etching out a banjo part you can sink your teeth into, dark and minor. Then everything jumps into a bright and major key for the second half, with hah-hah backing vocals that sound impeccable in the headphones and extra backbeat to emphasize the bitterness Barrett’s trying to step on past.
Finally, there is “Make It Better,” a proper closing track. It’s an almost linear build, starting from the most basic of acoustic guitar strums and slowing adding shaker, percussion, and humming, like a car coming from a distance down a country road, and then just hurtling onward with a spark of falsetto and then scatted vocals than venture awfully near to yodeling.
Eventually, it’s like Paul Simon’s Graceland, a warm cacophony that blends into layered vocals echoing the single word, “hope.”
Lush and evocative, it’s a strong finish to Barrett’s strong introduction. She is clearly a voice to be reckoned with going forward.
STEPS | Released by Monique Barrett | moniquebarrett.com