The difficulty that spoken word and performance artists face in releasing physical products must be daunting. How does one release an album of poetry, musical backdrop or not, that is largely devoid of the normalcy typically found in song? How does a poet sell his or her art to a public that is accustomed to seeing this manner of work performed versus heard? Brookyln’s Caits Meissner hopes to shift the paradigm in her favor with the release of her second EP The Wolf & Me, an impressive blend of poetry, singing and stellar production that takes on a variety of complexions.
The intro, produced by Bisco Smith, sets the tone of the EP from the onset. Meissner’s voice is soothing and stern all at once; urgency is constantly present in her poem yet never dominates the sparse production behind her. “Instead” features both the vocals and production of Jesse Boykins III. Meissner’s poem devoted to a lover is full of pleading demands but coupled with a softness that is supplanted by Boykins’ well-timed vocals. “A Song For The Ordinary” features the production and appearance of BrokeMC. Meissner allows her voice to open up more, reciting a chant along with BrokeMC before launching back into her poem. BrokeMC’s verse isn’t terrible but the song soared when Meissner was the only present voice. “Blackest Blood” highlights Meissner flexing her singing ability over production from Just Plain Ant. Thus far, this is the EP’s high point. Meissner’s soulful vocals are a welcome departure from her typical fare. After a brief interlude, the track “Facing Wind” returns to the earlier format of slow building production and spoken word. Producer The Aftermath provides Meissner and her featured artists Dunce Apprentice and vocalist Maya Azucena with a superb backdrop. Meissner’s poem resonates with anger and passion, and the track shifts to a speedy pitch that allows poet Dunce Apprentice to do his best to match Meissner. The vocals from Azucena are heard in the background but are oddly powerful even with the production sapping away some of the bombast.
“Alive In Rebellion” is a frustratingly short piece featuring production from GodLEE Barnes (also known as the rapper Blu). Meissner’s hypnotic voice and capable poetry are the outstanding but as the song ends Meissner opts to take the song out with some more of her singing, but is abruptly cut short. The EP’s last full track “Something Greater” features excellent production from Cazeaux OSLO and finds Meissner wisely singing again. Perhaps the EP’s strongest track, it also notes the imbalance present. Meissner’s spoken word performances on the disc are definitely standout, but the EP soars when she sings in favor of the poetry. Although it is just an EP, the release sounds like a somewhat realized project that would benefit from an upgrade to an LP. If Meissner can find the perfect balance between her love of poetry and her stellar vocals, her potential is limitless.
— D.L. Chandler