Zucker and Cutler embrace isolation for new EP ‘brent ii’

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Isolation allows the mind to wander, searching for a truth the outside world can’t provide. Musicians Jeremy Zucker and Chelsea Cutler embraced the isolation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic with their latest EP “brent ii,” a culmination of intense self-reflection and criticism.

Zucker and Cutler, both 24, are no strangers to introspective artistry. The two released “brent” in 2019, leaving the bustle of New York City for a remote cabin in upstate New York. After days of writing, exploring and conversing about life, the five-song EP was born.

Both musicians knew this was the start of a continuing artistic relationship, but neither expected a sequel project so soon. However, in a time where human connection proves difficult to find, “brent ii” brings a much-needed emotional warmth.

Following the same format as the original, “brent ii” features three duets and two solo songs, one for both Zucker and Cutler.

The opening song, “this is how you fall in love,” debuted on Jan. 15, a song about lovers finding solace in each other’s presence. On the day of its release, Cutler described the song as a slow dance and her favorite duet with Zucker.

As the dance ends, it transitions into “parent song,” an ode to family and the relationship between a grown-up child and their parents.

Despite moving away and starting their own lives, Zucker and Cutler acknowledge the love they have for their parents, singing “there’s nowhere else I’d rather spend my day / I love you. I know sometimes I don’t say / ‘Cause I know everything will be okay, be okay.”

While the first song teaches listeners how to fall in love, the third song, “emily,” shows what it’s like to fall out of it. After puppy-dog love fades, stubborn denial alone remains.

With heartbreaking passion, Zucker sings, “I’ll lie to you screaming, ‘I’d die for you’ / Knowing how hard it’ll be to get back where we started.” Neither person can accept the relationship is over, even though they are killing each other emotionally.

The final two songs on the record showcase their individual artistry, starting with Zucker’s “brooklyn boy.”

A year’s worth of frustrations and emotions build up throughout the song, leading to a cathartic release that leaves the listener in pieces. Zucker sings, “No amount of tears / Will wash away all of my fears / And no amount of time / Will change the way I feel inside.”

Culter closes out the EP wrestling with her fate in “the stars.” Searching for guidance after a particularly painful breakup, Cutler looks for answers from a higher place.

She sings “‘Maybe I want your love forever’, is that so bad to say? / Maybe we’re meant to be together if God had his way.” The song ends with Cutler explaining how the stars made her stay for so long, believing the lovers were meant for each other despite the pain.

Soul-stirring lyricism mixed with soft, simplistic production makes “brent ii” more of an experience than just a record. This record is for anyone needing a cathartic cry, an emotional detox for the mentally exhausting year we’ve had. Sometimes the best way to move on from pain is to embrace it, at least for a moment.

Jared Shuff is the Collegian culture editor and a junior in secondary education. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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My name is Jared Shuff, and I am the current editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I worked as the arts & culture editor and as a contributing writer for the news desk. I am a senior in secondary education with an emphasis in English/journalism. I grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas, and attended Hutchinson Community College before transferring to K-State in 2020.