Kaeli certainly got Straight music editor Mike Usinger’s attention with the package she sent her new EP in. The music itself was on a USB flash drive with her name and URL engraved on it. This was tucked inside a hollowed-out book that also contained an RFID card case, and a stainless-steel straw. That last item, according to a note from the artist, “will protect your DNA from being stolen off your drinking glass”, because that’s definitely a thing that happens to all of us, right?
As soon as a duly impressed Mike handed me all of the above, I set it aside and looked up Kaeli’s five-song Secret EP on Spotify, because this is 2019. And Kaeli McArter’s music is nothing if not contemporary; imagine an indie-pop Lady Gaga or Kesha. Not the glitter-and-vomit Ke$ha of “Tik Tok”, mind you, but the empowered version as heard on “Raising Hell”.
Kaeli’s “Freedom” and “Round 2” are very much in that independent-woman vein, and all of the songs boast impressively slick production, burbling with synths and electronic beats. The spooky closer, “Haunt Me”, is the EP’s high point, showcasing McArter’s powerfully plaintive singing over a subtly dubstep-inspired soundscape.