All the Things: A Decade of Songs
Emily Yacina is facing the problem many bedroom-pop artists have likely faced at one time or another. Part of the appeal of what we’ve come to call the 2010s’ bedroom-pop scene—which could just as easily been called “Bandcamp pop”—was the immediacy, the way the music would often appear unannounced in what seemed closer to a livestream of an artist’s first draft than some perfectly formed release. Yacina, for example, unveiled her first two full-length albums in 2011, Flood and Reverie. That’s 19 songs in under six months. It’s a good way to get your music out there, sure, but it also inherently devalues each new release. It’s been over 10 years now since those debut records arrived and Yacina has been putting out music at a pretty consistent clip since. Which is why, perhaps, we get something like her latest record, All the Things: A Decade of Songs, a compilation of sorts attempting to wrangle with Yacina’s impressively deep catalog.
In many ways All the Things does exactly what’s advertised, combing through Yacina’s albums, EPs, and singles to curate something as close to comprehensive as possible over 10 of the album’s 13 tracks. But I have to question the validity of this specific collection—in selecting these songs, Yacina jumps liberally through her career, from as early as 2011 to as recently as 2020's Chances EP. What’s noteworthy, though, is how much this album sounds like it could very well come from a single, two-week session with a producer. There are standouts here and there, but I fear this release really only puts into greater focus the lack of variety within Yacina’s catalog. As an album that advertises itself as a display of her “ability to work adeptly across a wide range of styles,” All the Things does precisely the opposite, ultimately becoming proof of the inverse.
Which isn’t to say All the Things lacks any redeeming qualities, just that they aren’t the ones its creators may have intended. In a move that further muddles the album objective, All the Things actually does include new material, with three original songs closing out the record. The most effective of these is “DB Cooper,” a track which equates the famous escape of its namesake to the avoidance of grief—specifically her grief surrounding the death of Eric Littmann, Yacina’s close friend and the producer of her last LP Remember the Silver. It might be the best song on the entire compilation—which, again, is kind of the issue: If you’re highlighting how much your songwriting prowess has grown even within the arc of your own greatest hits collection, doesn’t it belie the need for such a retrospective?
Though the tone and palette of All The Things remains largely homogenous, it seems clear Yacina is continuing to mature as a songwriter in a way that makes her contemporary work far more exciting than some of her earlier material. Ultimately, All the Things ends up being a perfectly serviceable showcase for a clearly talented songwriter, but does more to whet the appetite for Yacina’s future work than anything else.