Review by Abby Kenna
“Broken Year” by Sylvie & Mandy is a vulnerable, radiant story of second chances, loss, and kindness. Delicate and awe-inspiring, this song combines hypnotizing instrumentals with a familiar narrative sure to resonate deeply within all listeners.
“Broken Year” unfolds into a balanced arrangement of textures, with a rich, warm bed of acoustic guitar laying the foundation for a bright mandolin and pedal steel overtop. With purposeful space and aching moments of dissonance, Mandy’s captivating voice invites listeners into the song. The lyrics resonate through an expressive tone that gently emphasizes the narrator’s fatigue:
“You say it is what it is You got nothing left to give”
Delicate harmonies fall in step with the lead vocals as the chorus ensues, weaving radiantly over the blossoming arrangement. The floating, buoyant harmonies embody the message of the lyrics, as they plead:
“Let the judges be fair this was a broken year Let the judges be kind looking back on our sweet time.”
Just as the beautifully woven arrangement and poignant vocals of “Broken Year” settle in - lush and golden - a spark of rhythm and dynamic contrast within the bridge and outro stir listeners once more. Diving into a tense whisper, the outro strips the arrangement to its bones, leaving just the fervent vocals and a rhythmic guitar. The harmonies flow as one, momentarily dancing away from each other just to melt back into a single, floating tune. Slowly, the melodious mandolin drifts into the mix, balancing out the repetitive vocals with its own plucked theme. The rich arrangement floods back in, the repeated lines shining in a new light as the story comes to an end on an honest resolution:
“We did the best we could.”
“Broken Year” is a dance of soaring harmonies and warm instrumentals, telling a familiar tale of loss. After the losses we’ve endured internationally within the past year, this song is bound to resonate with all listeners, and illustrates a necessary kindness we must gift ourselves, yet one that is so often overlooked. Through “Broken Year”, Sylvie & Mandy have created the hug we’ve all needed, the breath of fresh air we need to take knowing that at the end of the day, we did the best we could.
About Sylvie & Mandy Sylvie & Mandy write, record, perform and produce original, alternative folk music. Their music explores the traditions of folk and Americana mixed with a touch of classical. Both women hold music degress in classical guitar performance. Sylvie is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, and Mandy is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music.
Sylvie is a lyricist and songwriter who plays guitar and bass. Mandy is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, mandolinist, pianist and ukulele player. In 2019, Sylvie & Mandy received a "Gold Medal Award" from the Global Music Awards for "Best Songwriter & Lyrics" and "Best "Vocals" for their song "Roots Run Deep."
Based in Connecticut and Texas, Sylvie & Mandy have been writing and performing together for many years. They have played many prestigious folk venues like Friday Night Folk (New London), The Buttonwood Performing Arts Center (Middletown), the Mystic Arts Center, and the Breadbox Folk Series (Willimantic). The two women were part of the popular Connecticut folk group, The Beekeepers, and they performed with the Celtic Trio, Celticity. Mandy teaches guitar and piano at Mandy's Music Lessons in Milford, CT and Sylvie teachers guitar online with Guitar on Demand.
For more information, please visit Sylvie & Mandy's website.