With a steady clock-like tempo provided by a snare rim and shaker, we enter the world of Katie O’Malley. The song is ‘Heart of Gold,’ and it’s fueled by subtle acoustic strumming, dirty slide guitar, bass, understated keys, and O’Malley’s tender yet pained delivery. She’s had enough of men using her to their advantage. She may have been born with a heart of gold, but it seems to have now lost its luster. The track slowly, quietly builds to a boiling point only to simmer down again before quietly retreating back into the shadows. It’s quite an opener.
‘Never Be the Same’ is O’Malley’s second EP. The first, the fine ‘Dawn Chorus,’ was self-released in 2017. Since then, she’s played across the country supporting Kimmie Rhodes and Beth Rowley, among others. On her new EP, the Manchester-based artist offers more diverse textures; from the train-chugging tempo of the lone upbeat number, ‘Back Again’ to the deeply atmospheric ‘What You Need,’ O’Malley imbues each track with understated passion, proving expression doesn’t necessarily require volume.
The title cut, ‘Never Be the Same,’ is a back-porch-after-dark rumination of the changes that life brings; how the impact of those changes affect not only how you move forward, but how you look back as well.
On the quieter moments throughout the EP, O’Malley’s voice is barely above a whisper, but it’s a powerful whisper. She always sounds in control, confident, capable. She handily pulls off the difficult feat of revealing her resilience and strength through her vulnerability.