Spencer Sutherland is not afraid to try something new

One of the things I love about Spencer Sutherland is that he’s not afraid to try something new. The emerging pop singer has always had a penchant for pop, but he aims to make it interesting and slightly left of center to create something that is less cookie-cutter and more uniquely him.

“Selfish” was the first song I heard by Sutherland back in 2016. He emailed it to me without any note or context — he just attached it for me to check out. I loved the song. It’s a mightily catchy pop stomper that showcases a prominent part of Sutherland’s musical identity: his falsetto vocals. He knows how to deliver a fine high pitch that makes him stand out from the pack.

It’s been a winding road for Sutherland who moved out to Los Angeles from Ohio to pursue a career in music. He released a number of tracks here and there, had a few respectable acting stints, played shows around the country, and ended up as a finalist on the British version of The X Factor in 2017. All of these loosely-connected experiences ultimately helped him articulate a cohesive musical identity that has inspired his two most recent EPs.

Following his (very good) 2019 debut EP, NONE of this has been about you, Sutherland unveiled his much-anticipated new multi-song effort this week. Titled Indigo, it further details the singer’s burgeoning sound. In fact, sonically, this new EP is a clear continuation of his previous EP, which underlines his singular musical vision.

Indigo does not solely refer to the rich blue color — it’s a reference to the original meaning of the word. “Indigo means ‘deep sincerity,’ and that’s really what I tried to portray with my message,” Sutherland says in a recent interview. “Rawness, anxiety, carefree fun, and wondering are the sincere emotions in this project.”

The EP starts out on a high note and perfectly introduces the sincere sentiments that inspired Sutherland’s songwriting for this EP. “I got to get this off my chest,” is the very first lyric on the EP that kicks off “Too Many Friends.” Produced by Danish producer Jonas Jeberg, it’s a funked-up bop that has hit written all over it.

That retro-styled funk pop sound along with Sutherland’s instantly recognizable falsetto marks his brand of pop. It’s an incredibly well-crafted revamp of a forgotten sound. It stands out in today’s moody pop landscape, and with the help of Sutherland, it makes a glorious return.

The EP’s title track is driven by a burping bassline that is layered under sparse instrumentation to fully push Sutherland’s vocals front and center. “Wonder” is the ultimate slow dance song that has Sutherland, well, wondering if his love interest feels the same he does after an encounter at a pink Tropicana sunrise. It’s another not-so-subtle color reference to paint a mood.

Here’s a quick side note: Sutherland’s reference to colors, and his use of color in general, is a fundamental part of his artistic expression. His music videos, EP covers, and yes, even his new merch clearly demonstrate this. Instead of picking bright and bold colors, he leans into deeper shades and subtle pastels that are equally vibrant — seventies orange, Scandic greens, indigo blues, and earthy reds. It’s another example of how the singer keeps things vivid and pop but veers slightly to the left from primary options.

Sutherland keeps the vibe going on “Bored,” a bouncy little number that warrants a viral TikTok moment. The singer gets playful on “Help” which closes the EP. It’s an expertly produced track that features the singer’s pitch-perfect falsetto layered in acapella-style harmonies throughout the song to emphasize his cry for help.

Indigo is a collection of songs that further help define Sutherland’s musical brand. He’s not chasing the sound of the moment, but instead, he embraces an alternative route to adopt a sonic aesthetic that suits him. Making choices that are not mainstream is real artistry. Sutherland is fully in tune with his musical instincts, and this EP is solid proof of that.

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