Featured Image: Kerry Feeney – Artist’s Own
It’s been hard for everyone to stay motivated during lockdown, especially if you’re working from home and are left to your own devices. It can be easy to give up, even on your passions. Thankfully, those in the music world have had the commitment and perseverance to keep producing tracks, even though gigs are cancelled and the future of their careers are still ambiguous. Today, we bring you five female artists who have released singles, EPs and even albums, since the world got shut down five months ago- from jazz to country, there is something here for everyone. Without further ado, we present to you five of the most hardworking musicians we know.
Currently living in London, Lebanese singer-songwriter Misa is due to release her debut album Broken Record later this year. Misa has been known to call music “the core of her life”; this passion extends to all corners of the music world, since her compositions range from jazz to blues, as well as to pop and electronic genres.
So far, five singles are already available off the record: ‘Still’, ‘Beirut Blues’, ‘Hymn’ (in two parts) and ‘Think About Me’. Misa has not only poured her heart and soul into her lyrics but all of her creativity as well. Through beautiful imagery, we learn Misa’s thoughts on life. ‘Still’ is a sombre track exploring the end of a relationship – wanting things to stop and slow when life keeps inevitably moving. ‘Think About Me’ continues this theme, describing the impossibility of moving on, when someone is ingrained inside your mind. Finally, ‘Hymn’ is a reminder that we are all together during this crisis and ‘Beirut Blues’ is an ode to her home city, sung in Lebanese Arabic.
Whilst ‘Still’ and ‘Think About Me’ are told through the arpeggiated acoustic guitar, jazz piano, strings and woodwind, ‘Hymn’ is a complete diversion from her original style. Her emotive voice soars high above the hypnotic electronic riffs and drum beats which run through both parts. Yet, in the second section, a myriad of vocal parts mingle together to create the sense of unity she was after. ‘Beirut Blues’ is a fittingly named blues track, filled with city sound effects. She’s even experimented with African drums on her track ‘Still’. Also, her multilingual tendencies shine through in ‘Think About Me’, as she sings the last verse in French.
Her new EP, Home is due to be released on the 12th August whilst her debut album is planned for later this year. Meanwhile, all these singles are available on streaming services.
Bursting with girl-power, Kerry Feeney’s self-titled debut EP provided (and still provides) fans with reassurance and strength, with its release only two months into lockdown. Coming to terms with painful relationships and personal battles of the past, Feeney’s music is all about self-love and body positivity.
‘Baby Girl Know It’ is explicitly about women embracing their looks and their flaws whilst, ‘I Don’t Like You’ is a criticism of those who judge others instead of improving themselves. The Kerry in ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Not Your Baby’ owns their sexualities and are willing to take risks. Feeney talks about learning through life, rather than letting others take care of you. ‘We’re Not Here For You’ highlights an important message that women can wear clothes to make themselves feel good; an outfit is not an invitation to be disrespectful. Finally, ‘Are We Through’ is a reminder that you don’t need to hide your emotions to be respected. Through rich and soulful vocals, Feeney implores her lover to let her know if their relationship will ever work.
She has released a music video for both ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Baby Girl Know It’ which are both centred around her feminist views. The latter is set at a date where the man doesn’t turn up. Feeney takes none of it and has fun on her own. She can also be seen reading a pamphlet that is titled ‘How To Own Your Thickness’ and wearing the clothes she wants to wear. Similarly, ‘Dangerous’ celebrates female independence and beauty through the medium of club dancing.
Each track is filled with glitchy R&B beats and silky jazz chords. The story behind ‘Are We Through’ is told through soft and understated acoustic guitar whilst the others are synth/keyboard-orientated. ‘Dangerous’ has the perfect ominous, arpeggiated backing whereas ‘I Don’t Like You’ is made thrilling through the sound of warm brass. Her unstoppable attitude emanates from every track, especially through the feisty rapping and siren-like synthesisers in ‘We’re Not Here From You’.
Kerry Feeney is available on all streaming platforms.
Yorkshire-based Phoebe Marshall is sure to be the next indie-pop sensation. Combining her sense of humour with authentic feelings, Marshall’s lyrics provide a real glimpse into her personality. Her first stint in the music scene was as a member of various punk-rock bands during her time at Leeds Music College. However, as a solo artist, she can let her true inspirations shine through. Phoebe Marshall is a pop girl through and through, citing influences such as Haim, Lorde, the eponymous Phoebe Bridgers and, of course, Taylor Swift.
Her debut release is a quirky tribute to the feeling that you’re not good enough for someone. It tells the story of a relationship between polar opposite personalities, that she feels is destined to fall apart. To try and save it, Marshall hides who she is. The song urges others to be themselves and not feel the need to conceal their true personalities. However, this serious message is told through a whole range of comic anecdotes, so that you can’t help but laugh to Marshall’s celebration of uniqueness.
The only electric instrument in ‘Don’t Tell Her’ is her guitar, which drives the song forward with its pounding beat. A clean guitar also provides a dreamy lead section as you sing along to its anthemic chorus. In contrast, her latest and only other release, ‘If You Begged For Me, Would I Have Stayed?’ is as electronic as its inspiration, Lover by Taylor Swift.
Marshall pours all the confusion of a breakup into one track, filling it with ethereal synthesisers and vocal harmonies. The percussion plays an important role, from creating the distant and otherworldly feel of the verses to clapping its way into the chorus. The chorus, by the way, is unforgettable. Sound-tracked by a choir of voices and a trap-like beat, Marshall proves that she’s one to watch.
Both of these tracks are available on all streaming platforms.
Hailing from South London, Ooberfuse is an electro-pop due consisting of Hal St. John and Cherrie Anderson. Their upbeat yet heartfelt sound has had them touring non-stop all around the world. They’ve played in countries such as the Philippines, Brazil, Iraq and Romania to name a few.
St. John and Anderson are a unique pair. Every song which derives from their heads is completely different. For example, their latest release is a loving tribute to Hal’s father. It was written around the time he passed away and released for this year’s Father’s Day. The lyrics go through the changing perceptions of your parents as you grow older – from idols to annoyances to mentors, who you wished you had listened to from the start. Anderson’s soft and poignant vocals describe life as a “desert land”, that must sadly be walked alone, away from the security and protection of your parents. This touching tale is told through a simple melody on acoustic guitar over the swelling of strings and even a clarinet solo.
However, ‘Father’ is unusually peaceful. Full of boundless energy, the duo tends to perform music comprising of glitchy synthesisers, huge bass drops and danceable choruses. After two albums, they have mastered the art of a thrillingly uplifting track, landing us with the accomplished, ‘Fly High’, to elevate our moods.
They love to collaborate with other artists. In fact, ‘Call My Name’ was released with five distinctive remixes which each adding a different mood to the track. Interestingly, Hal St. John’s version was played purely on muted guitars rather than the intricate layering of synthesisers that usually fill his pieces.
For charity, they have worked with the Philippines rap band, Kara Ni Juan, not only to create a smashing track but to raise awareness for local food distribution groups all over the world, who are helping the vulnerable during this pandemic. Anderson has also sung with a primary school choir to raise money for the protection of the Amazon rainforest.
‘Father’ is available on all streaming platforms.
Courtney Marie Andrews
American country singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews’ latest record Old Flowers was released last week, and features some of her most intimate and honest work yet. Unbelievably prolific, this album marks her fifth full-length record at only 29 years old – not to mention the music she released as part of the emo band, Jimmy Eat World.
Old Flowers is a dramatic turn in Andrews’ career. The name of the album comes from the poetic line, “You can’t water old flowers”. The album is littered with meaningful imagery, straight from the brain of the poetry-book-author and musician.
The anthesis of her previous politically- themed, country-soul album, May Your Kindness Remain, the record only features three musicians. It’s centred around the end of a 9-year-long relationship, and whilst heart-wrenching, contains no bitterness.
Instead, the album feels nostalgic and regretful. ‘Burlap String’ contains the lyrics, “There’s no replacing someone like you” and explores Andrews’ wish to change the past so that she can still share the affection of the one she loves. ‘If I Told’ reminisces on the first night they spent alone and how they promised to make it work. Andrews’ harrowing cries of “Would you?” relate to the line, “What If I told you, you’re the last thought on my mind each night”. The raw vocals that are featured in the refrain can’t help but make you feel that these lyrics are still relevant today.
Across the album, the instrumentation is unearthly whilst Andrews’ voice remains ethereal. Subtle synthesisers, rapid piano notes and faint guitar strumming all intertwine in the background, as Andrews pours her heart out to the world. Andrews and her producer’s wonderfully unobtrusive sonics are perfect for an album so visceral.
Old Flowers is available on all streaming platforms.