Georgie Thorogood takes a listen to the debut EP from young star, Mackenzie Carpenter.
When Mackenzie Carpenter’s self-titled debut EP dropped into the inbox recently, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As an MC virgin it was exciting to be able to listen to the full collection of tracks with fresh ears, and bearing in mind her young age (23) and the early stage in her career, I am sure I won’t be the only one!
The EP, released in April via The Valory Music Co., has been put together from songs written before her more structured career was conceived or planned, and it makes a refreshing change to hear the roots of a talent, before a more professional stamp has taken hold.
Kicking off with Throw You Back, which has distinct Maddie & Tae vibes, I was conscious that I wanted to hear some individuality. I am a Maddie & Tae fan, however there are a plethora of female country acts with a remarkably similar sound and for me, when discovering new artists, I want to hear something a little different. When track two Don’t Mess With Exes got going I was pleasantly relieved with the rockier Sheryl Crow style. Using a distinctive synth sound, this anthemic vibe was clear, and let’s be honest, there’s a message in here for us all when it comes to exes. “Girl, you put down that phone!”
Jesus, I’m Jealous is, for me, the weakest track of the lot. Perhaps I was influenced by my initial mishearing of the title lyrics; Jesus and Jelly doesn’t quite have the same impact! It’s not a bad song, it just didn’t grab me, but its more vulnerable tone and lyrics help to highlight Carpenter’s versatility.
There’s a strong Miranda Lambert sound to Huntin’ Season, again it’s not a bad thing and it’s a strong song which found success on TikTok. Knowing that these songs were conceived before Mackenzie’s career really got going, it’s touching to hear such a clear influence from a big name. This career is borne out of passion, respect and love for the music. It must help with sales and to gain fans by releasing a track that people can connect to due to the sonic familiarity – perhaps this is one of the reasons the TikTok community love it!
The EP wraps up with in my opinion the standout song of the lot. Can’t Nobody has a languid style and is a heartbreak song without being too cheesy – a fine balance! Sirius XM championed this track too, a great start commercially for a young artist.
Overall this collection of songs is an enjoyable listen and it’s clear that Mackenzie Carpenter (who has writing credits on every track, including two alongside her brother Micah) has an exciting future. With so many years ahead, it will be interesting to hear how her style develops its own unique sound, melting together all of those influences which individually sound so prominent in this raw EP.
Now signed to The Valory Music Co., she is recognised as an “artist to watch,” having already written a No. 1 hit and been included in several spotlight programs including the CMT Next Women of Country class of 2023. Mackenzie recently wrapped Danielle Bradbery’s tour and is gearing up to hit the road again with Conner Smith, plus she has already opened for Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen, Parker McCollum, Craig Campbell, and Ryan Hurd. This summer, she’ll take the stage at incredible events like CMA Fest, Country Thunder, Tortuga Music Festival, Stagecoach and is also scheduled to make her Grand Ole Opry debut in June.
1. “Throw You Back” | Mackenzie Carpenter, Micah Carpenter, Ben Williams
2. “Don’t Mess With Exes” | Mackenzie Carpenter, Nicolle Galyon, Brandon Hood
3. “Jesus, I’m Jealous” | Mackenzie Carpenter, Steve Moakler
4. “Huntin’ Season” | Mackenzie Carpenter, Micah Carpenter, Nicolle Galyon
5. “Can’t Nobody” | Mackenzie Carpenter, Peytan Porter, Brigetta Truitt
Visit mackenziecarpentermusic.com for more information and upcoming tour dates.