1. Happy Nights
2. Stuck on You
3. My Little Monster
4. Sebastian’s Bowl
5. Single (Bonus Track)
Kristina Lao, an acoustic artist that sounds within the likes of Regina Spektor (as she thanks in the liner notes of her debut album) and a female version of Kenny Choi from Daphne Loves Derby, manages to combine the right amount of indie folk with a slight touch of pop. “Into the Woods with a Cardboard Box” consists of four tracks (plus a bonus), all of which are reminiscent of happy nights, which also happens to be the title of the opening song.
Upbeat and cheery, “Happy Nights” is graced with crisp chords and sweet lyrics about being young and carefree. Even through the confines of audio, it is almost possible to hear Lao smile as she sings the last few words of the chorus. “Stuck On You” starts almost the same way, consisting of steady-paced muted chords, before transitioning into nearly country twangs of the guitar mixed with stronger, heartfelt vocals. However, with “My Little Monster”, she sings verses quickly with a sense of urgency, slowly but surely reflecting the influence Regina Spektor has had on Lao, with melodic and resonant choruses. With additional tinkling from the glockenspiel, “Sebastian’s Bowl” returns the listener to the same energetic feeling of “Happy Nights”, yet the song ends with a slow fading- out rather than a recording of “Hang on. Sorry. Can we start again?”
Last but not least, “Single” might just be a bonus track, but it is probably the most outstanding song on the album. The fingerpicking of the acoustic is accompanied with a piano, both of which meld seamlessly into a sad, yet beautiful song about heartbreak.
Though it is a fairly short album, it is truly redeeming in the sense that almost every song is filled with a feeling of everything being happy-go-lucky. Its playful tunes are a reminder to just have fun, and the lightheartedness of this record is something to sit back and relax to.
– Kira Chan