Review: London’s Zola Courtney Debuts with Breathtaking, Heartbroken “Untitled”

Zola Courtney
A gorgeously delicate heartbreak ballad, “Untitled” introduces London’s Zola Courtney for the very first time as a breathtaking vocalist full of heart, soul, and poetic nuance.
Listen: “Untitled” – Zola Courtney

Twenty-year-old Zola Courtney’s first song release is proof that you don’t need high-end production or a laundry list of credits in order to create breathtaking musical moments; you can do it all, with just a voice and keyboard if you like. Uploaded to SoundCloud less than a month ago (and recorded shortly before that), “Untitled” introduces Zola Courtney for the very first time as a breathtaking vocalist full of heart, soul, and poetic nuance.

untitled - zola courtney

untitled – zola courtney

Do you miss me, like I’m missing you
When you lie there,
do you wish I’m lying next to you?
And some nights when I can’t sleep,
you play on my mind on my mind repeat,
And it feels to me, like
I can never see myself letting go
Because I still love you so

Originally from the United Kingdom’s West Coast but based in London since she was fifteen, Zola Courtney is currently working on her debut EP and has been performing scattered shows around the UK for the past few months – including a slot at this year’s Bushstock Music Festival in Shepherd’s Bush. Her first-ever release, “Untitled” (which may also go by “What Is Love”) captures the intimacy and depth that select lucky Brits have already had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand: With a somber keyboard base serving as a buffer between Courtney’s silky voice and silence, the debut forces us to listen in and listen close.

Do you miss me, like I’m missing you?” Courtney asks in the first line. “When you lie there, do you wish I’m lying next to you?” Immediately, she fills the space with a raw, radiating heartache. Like a tear-stained, yet cathartic diary entry, “Untitled” grows increasingly vulnerable as the artist progresses to unleash her melancholy through song: “I can never see myself letting go, because I still love you so,” she sings softly, her voice gliding smoothly up and down before coming to a brief rest in-between verses.

Soulful and unassuming, “Untitled” is Zola Courtney’s gorgeously delicate heartbreak ballad.

Zola Courtney © Theo Batterham

Zola Courtney © Theo Batterham

Don’t like it, when you
don’t talk to me for weeks
Can’t fight it, the urge
to ask how your day’s been
And some nights when I can’t sleep,
you play on my mind,
on my mind repeat
And it feels to me,
like I can never see myself
Letting go, because I still love you so

Backed by a higher octave of keyboard chords, the artist proceeds to list the things she misses and struggles to live without in the song’s second and final verse, before falling back into her pained, expressive refrain: “And some nights when I can’t sleep, you play on my mind, on my mind repeat…

Who of us, in the thick of love’s loss, can bear to consider the possibility of moving on? Words are easy to write and to say; living them is a whole other, far more difficult reality to bear. “Untitled” finds a bleeding heart embracing the pain in a tender, bittersweet moment of self-knowing: Perhaps, indeed, this too shall pass, but it won’t today. In capturing this recording, Zola Courtney has enshrined a time at which she was shattered into pieces – as broken as her performance is fragile.

Listen to Zola Courtney’s “Untitled” below, and stay tuned for more from this Atwood Magazine artist-to-watch as she continues to introduce herself and her artistry. We

Listen: “Untitled” – Zola Courtney

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untitled - zola courtney

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com