A beautiful rising tempest, elkyn’s breathtaking winter single “If Only It Was Alright Now” is a feverish song of longing and desire, frustration and unfulfilled dreams.
for fans of Phoebe Bridgers, Sufjan Stevens, Nick Drake, Novo Amor
Stream: “If Only It Was Alright Now” – elkyn
Just a few months after elkyn’s overwhelmingly raw debut EP stunned us into an unsettled silence, the Leeds-based artist has returned with a dramatic slow-burning song that once again knocks us off balance, only to steady us anew. A beautiful rising tempest, “If Only It Was Alright Now” is a feverish song of longing and desire, frustration and unfulfilled dreams.
i laid my bed here
Sailed right in this place
God i hate it here
Why’d you take me out this way
Someone said i could find it here
The love i threw away
Maybe they were wrong
Only darkness fills this waste
Released November 25, 2020, “if only it was alright now” (stylized in lowercase) is the latest single from indie folk artist elkyn. The project by York-born, Leeds-based singer/songwriter Joseph Donnelly has made a quick name for itself in 2020, from debuting earlier in the year to releasing an EP that sweeps listeners off their feet.
In a feature published this summer, Atwood Magazine described elkyn’s Beech EP as refined, yet unadulterated – a subtle and understated indie folk record of the times replete with scenes of loneliness and longing, wonder and wandering. “Stripped-down yet so full of life, Beech is an honest outpouring of honesty in one of its most humbling, sincerest forms. elkyn is laid bare in songs that take our breath away through their sheer fragility and gut-wrenching humility – a product of soft singing, soothing finger-picking, dulcet piano work, a willingness to live with imperfections, and more. This music is human.”
“if only it was alright now” is a gorgeous and swift return from elkyn, finding Donnelly collaborate with Charlotte Lynch on vocals to produce a delicate and haunting experience. With a sound akin to Dustin Tebbutt or early For Emma, Forever Ago-era Bon Iver, elkyn weave acoustic and electric guitars together to craft an entrancing, inviting ethereal soundscape. Donnelly’s vocals are humble and heartfelt on their own, but Lynch and Donnelly’s harmonies together feel achingly devastating. They evoke a sense of dread, despair, and deep inner pain – the kind of thing that often can’t be evoke through words alone.
“The song is about a chapter in [C. S. Lewis’] The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, called ‘The Dark Island’,” Joseph Donnelly tells Atwood Magazine. “My mum used to read the books to us when we were kids so Narnia’s got a bit of a special place in my heart. I was going through a bit of a shitty time in uni a few years back now, and loads of unresolved issues were starting to surface. I ended up going home for a bit to get away and I remember my mum coming into my room one day and handing me the book and pointed out the chapter ‘The Dark Island’ and told me I needed to read it. I’m a pretty emotional guy, and I just remember reading it and having a big cry in my room. It just made a lot of sense for what I was going through.”
“In the chapter they’re roaming the sea on the Dawntreader and in front of them they spot a dark mountain. When they set sail towards it they realise it isn’t a mountain but a darkness. They argue amongst themselves on the ship and they finally decide to go into it. Once inside they find themselves in the darkness and they can’t see where they’re going or where they are. A man finally cries out from the water and when they drag him aboard he tells them to sail away, as this is the place where dreams come true. Everyone starts to like the sound of it and thinks of their dream relationships, people, or situations but in reality it wasn’t the daydreams they were thinking of, it was pretty much their nightmares. They start trying to leave but realise they are stuck and Lucy thinks to herself “it would be all right in a few seconds. But oh, if only it was all right now.” So the song is about the thing I was chasing, which I thought was my dream and what I wanted/needed to get better, but I just got stuck in a pretty horrible place for a long time. I was going to church at the time and I got a lot of “God’s got a plan” or “it’s just a season,” but there was always the question of, ‘Why isn’t it fine now?’ and feeling hopeless.”
“If Only It Was Alright Now” leaves us humbled, yet fulfilled. Hopelessness is manifest in song, with deftness and deference to its overwhelming weight and terror.
In bringing to light these vast emotions, elkyn shoulders our burden and takes a weight off our chests. Cathartic and ultimately uplifting (though it will take a minute to get you there), elkyn’s new single is a fitting send-off for 2020 – a farewell to a year that has crushed our spirits, dislocated and isolated us, and brought illness and death to far too many people… among other things.
Yes, eventually there will come an end to this pandemic. It will likely be alright in a few months (we say, holding our breath), but oh, if only it was alright now…
Stream: “If Only It Was Alright Now” – elkyn
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📸 © Mike Harrison art © Han Powell
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