A radiant record brimming with sweet pop, smoldering R&B, and intimate, grooving neo soul, ‘To Bloom’ breathes with deep vulnerability and emotion as Erez Zobary invests in herself, reveling in and dwelling on her own journey of growth and self-discovery.
Stream: “To Bloom” – Erez Zobary
I feel like throughout this project, I’ve taken risks and put myself and my voice out there in a way I haven’t done before and it’s allowed me to create content that feels meaningful, intentional and very authentic to who I am.
Life is more than a series of highs and lows, wins and losses: It’s an all-encompassing journey filled with endless little oft-forgotten moments – the spaces in-between the so-called milestones that shape who we are, who we’re becoming, and where we’re going. It’s these in-betweens that Toronto’s Erez Zobary so fluidly captures and reflects on in her recently-released sophomore album. A radiant record brimming with sweet pop, smoldering R&B, and intimate, grooving neo soul, To Bloom breathes with deep vulnerability and emotion as Erez Zobary invests in herself, reveling in and dwelling on her own journey of growth and self-discovery.
Through this lens, To Bloom is a triumph of sound and feeling.
I’m pushing forward and I’m letting go
Just 24 but I’m still learning to grow
Not stuck in this daydream
Cuz I’m through with waiting
I’ve been in pain and I know there’ll be more
I’ve been the rain and I’m one with the storm
I’m rooted enough now
To bloom on my own
There’s a reason for all the tears I’ve cried
And the mess I made helped me realize
That I’m tied to myself for the rest of my life
So I learn to love me
Petal, stem and thighs
– “To Bloom,” Erez Zobary
Independently released July 23, 2021, To Bloom showcases Erez Zobary’s skills not only as a lyricist and songwriter, but also as an emotionally charged, cinematic performer. Written and recorded entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, the follow-up to 2019’s debut album July Clouds finds the Toronto-based R&B/pop artist – previously an Atwood Magazine Editor’s Pick – blending a clear-minded presence with an introspective and dreamy reverie. Her album’s eight tracks invite listeners into an immersive, colorful world filled with sultry, slick sounds, deep grooves, and nuanced, evocative storytelling. While on the surface, To Bloom tracks the shake-up of a breakup and the process of healing and renewal, in every song Zobary takes time to thoughtfully explore herself, her relationships, her impact on the world, and vice versa. Thus, the record as a whole presents as a strikingly self-aware personal statement – a declaration for the present and the future. Zobary personally describes it as an expression of the “anxieties, challenges, and changes” facing her in coming-of-age into womanhood.
“The album tells my unique interpretation on what it feels and sounds like to be 23-24 years old and graduate university, move to a city (Toronto) and try to figure out who you are and what you want to be/do,” Zobary tells Atwood Magazine. “It’s a coming-of-age story where I celebrate my successes and stew over my failures; particularly relationship issues, both with others and within myself. The album tells my story of blooming into the woman I am and getting to know myself, my sexuality, my desires, my flaws, and my expectations better. As I grew (and continue to grow) into myself more and more, I was (am) able to make better choices for myself.”
“My vision going into this record was to release a project that felt very me and spoke to the experiences, feelings and big life changes that were top of mind for me. I didn’t quite know how and what I was going to write about- but rather wrote the songs simultaneously to living through the experiences I was going through. Now that the project is complete, I feel as though this record really conveys my voice as a female artist. It models radical transparency, vulnerability and self-acceptance in a way I have never fully been able to articulate before.”
Layers of personality and lived experience come to life on a record that pop, sizzles, and moves us inside and out.
Zobary says the title speaks to this bigger picture sense of growth – of living and learning along the way, in the present.
“We were working on the album for months and months, and there lacked a through-line and cohesion up until about two weeks before we completed the project and we wrote the final song and title track ‘To Bloom,’” she recalls. “We named one of our songs ‘Saku’ after my favourite Toronto sushi restaurant, and when I Googled the English meaning it was to bloom. There was something I really liked about the phrase ‘To Bloom’- it felt active rather than passive and it felt like blooming into yourself could mean an ongoing, messy process rather than something linear, definitive and finished. I felt it really spoke to this moment in my life.”
She adds, “I feel To Bloom captures my artistry as something that is always evolving and growing/changing as I grow and change as a person and woman. In this project, and all of the projects I work on, I try my best to not stick solely to one genre or sound. Every song on the album has its own inspirations from all of the different music that I’m interested in and that is resonant for me and I enjoy the diversity of sounds we are able to capture.”
What makes To Bloom so special is that it truly presents as one comprehensive 22-minute adventure: Its songs feel cohesive, fitting naturally together, and yet each stands on its own as well. Highlights abound from the honest, dejected upheaval “Everything” straight through to her uplifting and energetic, cathartic finale, “Breathe You Out.” Moments like the effervescent “Saku” and smoldering “You & I” make for instant standouts – but every song here has its moment in the sun.
“I loved writing ‘Everything’ with Adam Eisen and David Lipson in the studio over the span of 5-10 minutes,” Zobary lights up. “This song was born out of a beautiful piano loop that Adam was playing and when we wrote the vocal melody over it, it felt like the right opener for this album. I love those songs that come so quickly to us because they feel so right.” Hushed vocals and gentle pianos serve as a poignant entrance, with Zobary singing a mournful, poignant near-elegy to what once was, and will never be again:
You can never call me back
But I always wanted to believe
But you wanna tell me what you think
Tell me why you didn’t think
You can never get me back
Now that the weight is off my chest
I can finally breathe
Everything that made sense
Everything that you wanted, and me
It’s a powerful prelude to the reckoning that’s to come. Shortly thereafter, the album’s exhilarating title track marks another personal favorite for the artist. “‘To Bloom’ feels like the most intensely personal, introspective and uplifting song I have ever written. I feel really proud of this one. I remember finishing writing the song with my co-writers David Lipson and Adam Eisen and still living in my condo at Dundas and Spadina. When I first listened to the demo, I turned all of the lights off in my bedroom and let the beautiful city lights dance with me while I bawled my eyes out. It wasn’t a sad cry but a cry of relief and comfort. When I listen to this song I feel really held and comforted- it’s a reminder that being imperfect is perfect and that we can (hopefully!) do better when we know better. That is how the song makes me feel and that’s how I recommend listening to the song!”
Speaking to the song’s lyrics, Zobary adds, “Just 24 but I’m still learning to grow” – “this will always feel like a time capsule memory for me- almost like a journal entry!” “So I learn to love me/ Petal, stems and thighs” – “I love here how we were able to weave in natural imagery and also body parts to convey self love and body positivity, which has been very top of mind for me.”
Highlights abound not only sonically, but also lyrically. She cites the moody, pulsing “Stair Song” as some of her proudest poetry. “You sparkled more than you shined,” she sings in the bride. “This lyric speaks to me because it reflects my experience being on medication for my benign brain tumor and having some negative reactions to the medication. To me, sparkling represents a temporary lust, a chase, and thrill while shining is more powerful, it is stronger and it is long lasting. The only way I can describe this moment in my life is that for a good few months I felt like I was in a euphoric state – everything sparkled, even the bad things which sometimes led me to making the wrong choices, but once I went on a lower dose of the medication – things did not continue to sparkle, and I realized it was because they never shined.”
Ultimately, To Bloom shines with beautiful grace and candid passion.
Erez Zobary’s sophomore LP is a powerfully personal, vulnerable collection that, despite its at times heavy subject matter, manages to dazzle the ears and send the mind soaring.
“I hope listeners take away that we are imperfect humans who have the capacity to learn and grow and do better when we know better; that we are all on a path of figuring out who we are, and while it can be stressful, messy and chaotic the journey can also be beautiful, impactful and meaningful – and that it feels so good to dance-cry it out!” Zobary shares.
“One of my favourite parts of working on this record is that I was able to execute a lot of my goals as an artist – I wanted to work with talented local Toronto photographers, I wanted to release a music video that I was really proud of, and I wanted to continue collaborating with my two best friends and musical partners, David Lipson and Adam Eisen. I feel like throughout this project, I’ve taken risks and put myself and my voice out there in a way I haven’t done before and it’s allowed me to create content that feels meaningful, intentional and very authentic to who I am. I’ve taken away how important it is to continue being vulnerable and using my voice and experiences to normalize all of the messy and weird things that may come up as you ‘grow up’; how amazing our community is – how open, loving and warm they all are, and how lucky I am!! Truly, truly lucky. I feel so supported on this musical and life journey, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Erez Zobary’s To Bloom with Atwood Magazine as the artist goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her new album!
Stream: ‘To Bloom’ – Erez Zobary
:: Inside In Bloom ::
This song tells the story behind New Year’s Eve 2019. Just after midnight, I called the person I was seeing at the time (and who much of this album is about) and they didn’t pick up, which reflects their general aloofness and lack of responsiveness throughout the entire relationship. They also didn’t text me or respond for a good 48 hours later and I really feel this situation encapsulated our entire relationship- the lack of reciprocity on their part and the one sided effort on my part. In the latter half of the song, I talk about letting this person go and how liberating that felt, “I can finally breathe”. I learned a lot throughout this relationship about what I actually want and expect from myself and a partner and what I deserve.
I wrote this song just before seeing my ex for our final ‘break up talk’. I knew I needed to write a song like this to hold myself accountable to fully ending things and to remind myself just how fed up I was about being in a relationship that wasn’t good or healthy for me. I actually ended up playing this song for them (they did not like hearing it… makes sense!).
We had written every other song on the project and it felt like there lacked a through-line and cohesion. The project needed a ‘thesis statement’ song (I’m an English teacher so I think like this sometimes). We worked on To Bloom months and months before and we had really forgotten about it until my producer/co-writer David Lipson pulled it up in a studio session. David, Adam (another co-writer and player on the project) and I heard the verse and pre-chorus we had written previously and knew right away that we needed to write a chorus and have this be the title track of the project. For the chorus, we paid particular focus to body positivity and self acceptance. My last album I wrote a song called Love Me (all about self love) but as I grow older I feel self acceptance is more attainable for me and actually helps me achieve self love, or a form of it.
David and I wrote this song walking up the stairs from the music studio to the kitchen for a snack- hence the name Stair Song. This song connects to ‘Everything’ because they both talk about bad, unreliable and inconsistent texting and communication in general. Although this can be really frustrating and, for me, a red flag, I admit in the song that I was so infatuated with this person that just hearing their name got me excited and longing for connection with them. (this connects to the favourite lyric in Stair Song below- “Sparkle more than you shine”)
I wrote this song in 2 phases. The first phase (Verse 1 + Chorus + bridge part) I wrote when I had just entered into a new relationship and I was going through the joyous, giddy, exciting motions of new love. When I wrote the 2nd part of the song (2nd verse & beyond) I had been feeling quite insecure and not myself in the relationship. I worried that if I was ‘too much’ then they would leave and not be interested in me anymore. The 2nd verse is all about how I actually find comfort and “[holiness”] in being alone and that it’s possible, when you’re with the wrong person especially, to feel more insecure when you’re with someone versus when you are alone.
You & I
A big part of growing into who I am as a person and woman has been embracing my sexuality and unlearning all of the patriarchal, sexist sentiments about female sexuality that I had learned throughout my life. Unlearning these ‘beliefs’ has been top of mind for me in the last few years and one of the resources that helped me better understand and got me more comfortable with talking about female sexuality is Emily Nagoski’s Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life. I wanted this song to be explicit about touch and human connection and wanted the sound to be sexy and empowering. This is the ‘sexiest’ song I’ve ever written and released, which we joke doesn’t say much, but it feels empowering to be able to talk openly about sex and connection in a way that feels comfortable for me because for a long time I didn’t think I could or should.
The demo of the song was written on a single note from construction outside of the studio (which went on for months). We used the sound of construction as a background drone sound to write the rest of the song. When writing this song I had a specific memory of walking home from a night out with my ex and the snow hitting us and the ground really quickly so that you didn’t have a clear vision of the houses and trees that I knew were there. I also didn’t have clear vision when we were together- something was blocking my ability to see the relationship for what it really was. This song is pretty heartbreaking for me, it really reflects desperation and longing to my detriment. The vocoder to me makes the song less heartbreaking to sing and hear and is almost a mask for the pain behind the words.
Breathe You Out
This song is all about the people that are so horrible to us that the only thing there is left to do is breathe them out. If we keep thinking about them and obsessing over all of the ways they’ve wronged us, we become consumed and unable to move forward or heal. I dated someone who was just truly awful and when it ended my roommate gave me some of the best advice- “just breathe them out”. That’s exactly what I did, and try my best to continue to do, when I need to move forward from and move on.
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📸 © Teaunna Gray
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