RIYL: Jessie Reyez, SZA, Rihanna, Elle King, Gin Wigmore
The cozy Los Angeles studio hums with conversation as the crowd looks upon the mounds of crumpled sheets of notebook paper scattered across the stage and down the aisle leading to it. Handwritten bits and pieces of some very personal thoughts can be deciphered from the clutter.
“There is something immensely exciting about feeling like time is ticking just for you. We were prepared to accept anything life threw at us.” The twenty-three-year-old songstress’s voice pierces through the murmurs as she recites a journal entry dedicated to a past love, a lingering presence in her life that leaves her wondering if he still feels the same way. “There are moments where I just want to pick up the phone and call you, just to hear your voice. I wonder if I’d still be able to tell how you feel just by the sound of it. You always said a lot without saying anything.”
As the third stop on Bibi Bourelly’s intimate acoustic tour, Los Angeles witnessed a very special evening in conjunction with the release of Bourelly’s latest project, a live-studio EP and video series titled Boy (released August 17 via Def Jam Recordings). Along with some of her other more well-known songs, Bourelly’s stripped-down set included the four tracks on the EP.
Watch: “Sunshine” – Bibi Bourelly
“Sunshine” sets the tone for the project as the only single not already included on her two-part EP project, Free The Real. The track is bold and raw — the soundtrack to a heartbreak — and she recounts one of her darkest moments and her refusal to leave the house. Backed by a single electric guitar, Bourelly’s powerfully husky voice remains in the foreground as the most important instrument throughout the entire EP. “Poet” reveals the intensity of her love, a no-holding-back kind of infatuation. A woman as honest as she is talented, she loves to the extreme and does not care who is watching.
Watch: “Poet” – Bibi Bourelly
What makes Bourelly so special in today’s pop era is that she has the audacity to be herself. Self-aware of the imperfections that make her a human being, she is the first one to point out her insecurities, but also the first one to embrace them. In “Flowers,” she sings to a boy who could not be his honest self. Her star power comes from a self-assurance that her opinion of herself is the only one that matters. The final track track, “Untitled,” reflects the damage inflicted by her former crush who failed to break her. It is an ode to the unbearable pain she felt — the kind of suffocating pain that could only be overcome by the kind of self-love onto which she has learned to hold.
Watch: “Flowers” – Bibi Bourelly
There is something to be said about Bourelly’s choice to highlight her live sound on this three-part project. The feeling of proximity with the listener typically gets washed away with the dozens of takes on a traditionally-produced album. However, each voice crack and every audible inhale provides her audience with a sense of closeness and connects them to her humanity. She is not some far-off pop star that lives a life of exclusivity from her fans. She gathers her friends into an intimate space and weaves the very authentic tale of a real woman who has faced and has overcome some very real problems of her own. There is not a soul in the world who cannot relate to her struggles, and Boy is a story that can be shared and appreciated by all.
Watch: “Untitled” – Bibi Bourelly
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