LISTEN: Evie Balfe – ‘According To Maybe’

According To Maybe‘, the latest single from Lincoln-born London-based artist Evie Balfe, is an echoing and life affirming anthem for anyone with a taste for indie electro-pop who needs a cheeky self esteem pick me up…

Evie’s intoxicating vocals swim effortlessly through this track creating a melody of gorgeous moods which shift from conversational to commanding as she, rightly, reminds us “not to live according to maybes”. Evie’s vocals – which carry a certain flirtatiousness to them –  invite us into a sea of soothing electro beats. There’s a sense of Alice going down the rabbit hole here as the track leads us from from blink-and-you’ll-miss-it percussion phrases, to moments where all production is pulled away leaving only the vocals to mesmerise us.

The balance between all these changing directions is brokered perfectly and, though it’s intense, this track feels full without being busy. There’s also enough passion and heart shining through each verse to ensure Evie’s true intention is never lost as she calls for us to garner enough self confidence to carve the life for ourselves we truly deserve, without ever settling for less. A welcome addition to any feel good playlist.

Do I Feel Like I’m Happy Now, the upcoming album from Evie Balfe, is set for release soon… Keep your eyes and ears peeled!

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LISTEN: Sophia – ‘Strong For Two’

Strong For Two‘, the latest offering from Rotterdam based singer songwriter Sophia, is a reflective track which popped just the right spring in my step as I took my first strides into 2022. 

With lyrics like “Please don’t be afraid / I get lonely too / there’s no need for shame / you can own your truth”, Sophia shows herself to be he a strong lyricist with an observational and bravely personal outlook. Frequently inviting us to embrace our vulnerability, line by line, Sophia cultivates such a bond with her listener that each verse comes to feel like the warming layers of a good hug.

Complementing the lyrics is a neat and upbeat sauntering rhythm which hints at the R’n’B influences on Sophia’s work. Her ability to vocally switch tempo and tone throughout the song also makes the track feel like a journey, like I’m being taken by the hand into the middle of the dance floor – or maybe just the middle of myself. The song closes with the appearance of several new voices speaking the reaffirming words “You know where to find me”. This surprising touch adds an exciting female flourish to the song which offers a genuine sense that we really are all in this together: a track for the New Year truly. 

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EP: Billie Flynn – ‘Hey Stranger’

I’ve taken a while to find the words for Billie Flynn’s debut EP Hey Stranger, a heartfelt meditation on grief. Each listen has highlighted something new and different, evoked more and more feelings; gorgeous, but increasingly hard to describe in words. It’s a thing of feeling. It feels like memories whispered on a cliff edge and the wind carrying parts of you away. It feels like the moments of stillness after the soil’s been turned. It’s incredibly honest and it  demonstrates Flynn’s infinite potential – her lyrics speaking truth to grief, while fitting comfortably into the cosy featherlight and luxuriously breathy cocoon of her voice box. 

The quality of production is consistently immersive – heady and cinematic, each song getting the best out of synths, pianos and Flynn’s unique tone. I’ve written about and adored previously released tracks already, but the latest ‘Forever Goodbye’ shows Billie’s artistry at a whole other level, it surpasses expectations. I held my breath as I listened. It’s about a loss which occurred during Billie’s teenage years and is utterly stunning in a very special, incisive and relatable way. Lyrics such as  “there’s a look in the eye of a friend when they mention your name, like they’re reminding me of pain, like I’d ever let it go” get to the core of what it is to live with loss in the presence of others. The trepidation, the repetition, the changing pace of the world outside as something privately sinks into your soul, and the never ending cycles. For an EP to so unambiguously be about the life changing power of loss without being in any way maudlin, is truly magical. 

There’s hope and transformation woven in  too. ‘The Good Girl’ beautifully explores the personal journeys our pain can inform as Flynn sings about shedding people-pleasing tendencies, pushing boundaries and growing into someone different. What does it mean to be authentic? What does it mean to reject expectations? What are those moments in life when we feel ourselves truly step into our own power? These are the questions ‘The Good Girl’ provokes. 

The emotional energy of Hey Stranger might not neatly blend with the sugar coated Christmas tunes we’re hearing blasted around us, but there’s no doubt that the moment for this EP is now. In a period where so much and so many are being grieved, this body of music is timely and refreshingly close to home.

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LISTEN: Alex Jayne – ‘Hollywood’

Having already received acclaim from the likes of The Line Of Best Fit and Chris Hawkins on BBC 6Music, Alt-pop artist Alex Jayne’s latest release, ‘Hollywood‘, is a mesmerising treat. Conjuring euphoric vibes, it unravels the head as it leads us somewhere new. “It’s a song about the fantasies we hold onto and get hurt by” says Alex.

Alex’s simple striking lyrics glide against a limitless expanse of immaculate production. The controlled nature of Alex’s voice is calming and grounding. Her sometimes hopeful, sometimes wistful, repetitions of “Hollywood”, cleverly render even the word itself strange and undefinable. Mid-way through there’s a cutaway to Alex casually and candidly chatting. She utters, in her casual spoken voice: “… don’t talk to me about the future, I can feel it there waiting, y’know?” This charmingly ordinary split second is a beautiful plot twist in a song which is comfortably and successfully cinematic. 

After the two years we’ve had, this notion of striving for a chameleon like, omni-out-of-reach reality lands with just the right balance of promise and poignance. Whether the song summons thoughts of lost love or just that sense of your future living somewhere in the distance, this is an emotional track which speaks to the moment we’re living in with a welcome uniqueness. 

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Photo Credit: Laurie Barraclough