Today’s Song: “Hold Yourself Together” Is Evelyn Frances’ Haunting Love Letter to New York City

Evelyn Frances © Heather Skye photography
Evelyn Frances © Heather Skye photography
New York is intense and unapologetic, and Evelyn Frances’ love letter to the city is dark, ominous and haunting: “Hold Yourself Together” is a heavy and hearty reality check, standing in solemn, disenchanted awe of the City of Dreams.
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Stream: “Hold Yourself Together” – Evelyn Frances

Some love letters are sweet, whilst others are seductive; some evoke love, whilst others evoke longing. In contrast, Evelyn Frances’ love letter is dark, ominous and haunting: A foreboding, visceral ode to a home that will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not careful. New York City is intense, chaotic, and unapologetic about it, and “Hold Yourself Together” stands in solemn, disenchanted awe of the City of Dreams – a beautifully draining soundtrack to our heaviest, soul-stirring nightmares. The City So Nice, They Named It Twice gets a harsh reality check here, and while there’s no denying a certain kind of love running through this song’s veins, it’s weary and tired; ready to move on to better things.

Hold Yourself Together - Evelyn Frances
Hold Yourself Together – Evelyn Frances
Perhaps I’m being greedy
impatient and unkind
but New York is slowly seeping
into everything of mine
How do you hold yourself together like that
perfectly painted nails that
grasp the subway rails filled with

germs and sperm and spit
from millions of strangers
millions of beautiful strangers

Independently released January 20, 2023, “Hold Yourself Together” is Evelyn Frances’ breathtaking first single of the year – and an evocative one, at that: As a New Yorker (I currently live in Midtown Manhattan) with his own love/hate relationship with New York, this song’s honest reckoning hits both hard and deep down inside. The city is awe-inspiring, but from the unabating throngs of pedestrians to the muck and grime on the ground, to the stench that especially reeks in summertime, New York can easily repel even the most starry-eyed, sanguine romantics. It’s a dirty city; often times I find myself wondering what it is about this place I ever loved, and yet it’s my home, and I do love it – even if I hate it, too.

Evelyn Frances © Heather Skye photography
Evelyn Frances © Heather Skye photography

How do you hold yourself together like that? Perfectly painted nails that grasp the subway rails filled with germs and sperm and spit from millions of strangers…

“Hold Yourself Together” follows 2022’s singles “I Wonder What the Neighbors Think of Us” and “Tired,” the latter of which Atwood Magazine called “achingly raw and intimately confessional” in our exclusive premiere. Originally from upstate New York and now based in rural Ireland, Evelyn Frances channels as much Elliott Smith and Joni Mitchell as she does Deep Purple and Rainbow in a heavy and hushed upheaval of the soul. Her alternative, experimental indie folk music is a world unto itself, as listeners first experienced through 2019’s debut album Seed. She is currently working on her second full length album alongside Phil Joly (mixing and production), Tristan Allen (production and bass), Ricky Petraglia (drums), and John Thayer (mastering) – and “Hold Yourself Together” is the alluring tease of all that’s to come.

There’s something indescribably enticing about this song that holds absolutely nothing back: “Perhaps I’m being greedy, impatient and unkind,” Frances sings softly at the start, her acoustic guitar gently gliding up and down a devastating harmonic minor key, “but New York is slowly seeping into everything of mine.” The term “seeping” is not used lightly, nor is it used very lovingly in this context; rather, Frances evokes the helplessness and heartache one feels in the eye of an ever-churning storm.

This calm is eerie and unsettling; our hairs raise and shivers run down the spine as “Hold Yourself Together” gradually melts over the ears, pressing a palpable weight down on our consciousness. This might very well be the same sensation Frances had while writing these powerful words.

Evelyn Frances Awakens in Hushed & Raw New Single “Tired”


Her imagery is stunning and deeply provocative, and you would be forgiven for feeling tinges of disgust in these lines.

Nevertheless, Frances adamantly calls this song “my love letter to New York.”

How do you hold yourself together like that
you better not cough or sneeze or sniffle or breathe
too deep through your mouth

“I wrote this song at the very beginning of the pandemic,” the singer/songwriter tells Atwood Magazine. “I had just been laid off at my restaurant job in the city, was just getting over a cold (maybe even COVID) and sat on my kitchen floor in the morning and the song just came out. When it was finished, it was late afternoon and I was still in my pajamas and had been drinking coffee all day. I remember I was shaking. It was one of those rare songs that just falls out and you don’t really feel like you wrote it, but that it wrote itself. The beginning of the song is the actual voice note I sent my producer/engineer (Phil Joly) that day from the kitchen floor. You can hear I’m getting over a cold, the page turn at the beginning of my lyric book, and the ominous drones of helicopters all around the city as the news was breaking about the pandemic.”

“I really wanted layers of woodwinds on this (since I’m a flute player) and decided on bass clarinet as the main character, in tandem with the helicopters. I drafted what I was hearing in my head into a visual sheet music piece that included the helicopter sounds, which can be seen on my instagram if you really want to scroll for it, and gave that to my producer and the bass clarinetists to play off of. After we recorded the official parts, Phil came back to me with this amazing drop of the original voice note into the professionally recorded song and I was so thrilled when I first heard it, I laughed out loud. It just gave the song a whole new feel. Like you were Alice falling into Wonderland. Except Wonderland is a New York City subway and you’re having a panic attack.”

Evelyn Frances © Heather Skye photography
Evelyn Frances © Heather Skye photography

There are many versions of New York City (every block is truly its own ecosystem), but there is no denying the intensity, immediacy, and emotional impact of this bustling metropolis on an individual. It will engulf you; it will consume you. Gorgeous, biting, and bitter, “Hold Yourself Together” captures a soul submerged – overwhelmed and overrun by an unrelenting environment. Evelyn Frances’ love letter is raw, and knowing that she ultimately left New York for greener pastures (at first rural Ireland, and now Seattle), we can ultimately appreciate this song as a wake-up call to the self and a final goodbye to one’s home.

Love it and/or hate it, there’s no place quite like New York.

Maybe I’m being paranoid
disgruntled and uptight
but New York is steadily draining me
of everything I thought was mine
How can you seem so comfortably undisturbed
we’re living on an island made from our own garbage and dirt
a beautiful island
of garbage and dirt and spit and sperm and shit with
millions of beautiful strangers

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Stream: “Hold Yourself Together” – Evelyn Frances

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Hold Yourself Together - Evelyn Frances

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? © Heather Skye photography

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