When I last checked in with Australian-born, New York City resident Johanna Cranitch, she was the frontwoman for a somewhat folksy yet ethereal band called the Dusty Floor. However, having travelled to Iceland and worked as a touring backup singer for the Cranberries, Cranitch has since figured her sound needed a rethink. So now she’s in a new “band” called White Prism, a three-piece in live settings, which has unleashed a debut EP that keeps the Kate Bush-isms of Cranitch’s former band intact (there’s even a non-EP cover of “Cloudbusting” on White Prism’s Soundcloud page), while turning the sound into a more icy, keyboard pop veneer. These five songs, spread across 19 minutes, are sometimes dark and sometimes foreboding, especially in the latter half of the EP, but are yet entirely approachable and even danceable.
This is something of a new turn for Cranitch, who has also been earning comparisons to the more ‘80s synth pop aspect of Fleetwood Mac. And the self-titled EP definitely is something of a performance piece that’s at its best when it’s aiming for the feet and less so when targeting the long, dark tea time of the soul. Which is to say that the White Prism EP is incredibly frontloaded, but even as it trudges along to a murkier sound, it still isn’t quite so bad. Opener “Song 52” has a very Fleetwood Mac-vibe filtered through the feel of an Alaskan winter, while “Play Me, I Am Yours” has an ‘80s John Hughes movie soundtrack throb to it. “Dance On” makes you want to do just that with its motorik beat. What’s more, I actually got the songs sent to me digitally out of order (I had to piece together the tracklist using the Web), and when I did listen to this material for the first time, which was outside of its intended line-up, the album arguably worked better, leading me to suppose that the White Prism EP is a very shuffle-friendly piece, and fits together in different, interesting ways. Despite the fact that its final two songs, “Siren Calls” and “Wishes”, are slightly weaker because they’re a bit bleaker than what precedes it, this is still worthwhile stuff and worthy of putting a small bag of money down on. White Prism may mark a sea change in Cranitch’s sound, but it may be for the better and definitely makes the artist appear appealingly chameleon-like.