Inspired by the likes of Wolf Alice and Arcade Fire, London-based artist Tina Boonstra writes in a vulnerable, yet determined vein. Her debut EP My Concrete Heart (Will Beat Again) – released on 2nd February via 7Core Music – is a collection of moving, honest, brave songs that will school its listeners in empathy and introspection.
The understated ‘Prodigal’ opens the record, quietly showcasing Tina’s measured, but powerful vocals. It leads in to the soothing ‘I Think I See You Now’ which plays out with equal parts confidence and patience: “as steady as my heart beats, as certain as the sunrise”. Tina’s musical style may have been intended for the halls of churches (she was raised in a Christian missionary family), but it’s clear from these tracks that her sound was meant to echo further.
It’s easy to surrender “skin and bone” to the sound of third track ‘Occupy Me’ as it gently builds in to another three minutes of hymn-like escapism. Following track ‘Concrete Heart’ is a complete change of pace, with pounding drums, heavier guitar riffs, and a melodic chorus that breaks through like the “perfect love” Tina sings of. It feels like an aural emotional release that rings out with the relief you experience when you find someone worth opening up to again.
‘Only A Human’ changes the EP’s direction once more, as Tina explores the isolation of another: a teenage boy with a suicide bomb strapped to his chest. It’s an unexpected turn, and a thought provoking exploration of empathy, culminating in the honest lyric “you’re not to blame now, you’re only a human”. The gentle ‘Castle’ closes the record. It’s a carefully curated piano-led ode to a fortress of love and support, and a calm ending to this soft but tempestuous debut.
Speaking of her EP, Tina admits: “I wanted to sing about faith and doubt, and the very real struggle to feel anything apart from completely numb.” She has definitely succeeded in making us feel anything but that, and we’re sure listening to My Concrete Heart (Will Beat Again) will make others feel again too.