Atwood Magazine’s staff celebrates International Women’s Day 2023 with a special feature and playlist highlighting some of our favorite women in music today!
featuring Abby Holliday, The Aces, Alexandra Savior, Beyoncé, Boyish, Courtney Barnett, Fiona Apple, HAIM, Joy Oladokun, Lainey Wilson, Lexie Liu, Lizzo, Maggie Rogers, Mitski, Nita Strauss, Olivia Dean, Overcoats, Otoboke Beaver, Pom Pom Squad, Reya, Sophie Lloyd, The Staves, SZA, Weyes Blood, & Xana!
Celebrating Women in Music!
International Women’s Day 2023
Abby Hollidayby Mitch Mosk
Cincinatti-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter Abby Holliday has quickly become a mainstay of Atwood‘s pages over these past two years. It all started with our premiere of her stunning sophomore single “8 Hours”, in which we labeled her an “artist to watch” and praised her dynamic, emotionally-charged indie pop sound, her mesmerizing harmonies, and her rich, evocative vocal performance: “It’s a beautifully moving overhaul of feverish feelings – the kind of surrender we need in order to move on. With so much movement and such effortless polish, it’s hard to believe this is only her beginning… Introspective and honest, confessional and achingly visceral, Abby Holiday has made an unforgettable entrance with ‘8 Hours.'” She followed through immediately on her 2021 debut album WHEN WE’RE FAR APART I FALL APART, a breathtakingly beautiful dive into the depths of raw humanity; ever since then, every song Holliday releases feels more unapologetic and impassioned than the last.
The artist recently announced her upcoming sophomore album I’M OK NO I’M NOT (out April 13), and so far all four of its singles have been pure, dazzling, dynamic gold. An exhilarating wash of radiant sonics and anxiety-fueled introspection, “Predictable Life” is a candid, critical, and mildly self-deprecating anthem that rises through the rafters while drowning in a pool of relatable sorrows. Her latest single is a cinematic reckoning with grief: Beautifully volatile and stunningly visceral, “Ohio Laundry Room” erupts in a raw indie rock fever dream of cherished memories and radiant sound as Holliday pulls some of the most meaningful and memorable parts of her relationship with her late grandmother together. Holliday wrote the song within a week of her grandmother’s passing, and you can truly feel the weight of her loss. Spilling her soul through glistening guitars and larger-than-life production, Holliday rises and falls in heartrending, explosive outpourings of feeling. It’s a gut-punch made with the deepest kind of love there is, and as Holliday’s inner turmoil is manifest in song, we can’t help but be reminded of loved ones we’ve lost, and for a moment, feel the intensity of that timeless, shared connection that stretches beyond the realms of life and death. Fragile, heartbreaking, cacophonous, and cleansing, “Ohio Laundry Room” is an achingly beautiful, instantly irresistible tempest – and further proof of Abby Holliday’s prowess. Already one of Atwood Magazine‘s 2023 Artists to Watch, Abby Holliday is one-of-a-kind.
The Acesby Mitch Mosk
Few artists make it look quite as easy, or as fun, as Provo, Utah’s The Aces. For years now, the indie pop band of sisters Cristal Ramirez (lead vocals and guitars) and Alisa Ramirez (drums), guitarist Katie Henderson, and bassist McKenna Petty have been lifting our spirits through infectious, high-energy and high-emotion music full of passion, purpose, and drive. 2018’s When My Heart Felt Volcanic saw the band’s long-awaited eruption, with irresistible tracks like “Waiting for Love,” “Stuck,” and “Volcanic Love” quickly finding their way into the mainstream lexicon. 2020’s searing, smoldering sophomore effort Under My Influence solidified The Aces’ place at the front of the pack, with its kaleidoscopic lead single “Daydream” soaring to stunning heights while songs like the aching “801,” the enchanting “I Can Break Your Heart Too,” and “Going Home” represented some of their most intimate songwriting to date – not to mention an effortless stylistic expansion into the R&B world.
The Aces’ latest two singles were released quite far apart from one another, but they are easily two of the band’s best: Soaring guitars shine with radiant light and drums pulse a feverish beat on “Girls Make Me Wanna Die,” a churning and charged queer heartbreak anthem that bursts out of the gates with explosive energy, riding that high from start to finish. The Aces inject layers of nostalgia and intense heartache into their verses, coming alive in a searing chorus that reflects the all-consuming, unabating nature of young love and teenage desire.
Meanwhile, the achingly raw “Always Get This Way,” released in mid-February, sees The Aces combine brutal honesty and unapologetic intimacy with their signature soaring passion and stunning energy. The result is a captivating and charismatic unveiling of our innermost emotions – and one of the band’s most upfront and vulnerable confrontations with anxiety and mental health, with deeply candid lyrics exploring internalized pain and its heavy baggage. Credit to The Aces for building us up while breaking us down all at the same time. This quartet deserves all the recognition they’ve earned thus far in their career, and all the acclaim that’s yet to come. With a third album coming this year, The Aces have a stacked deck, and they’re playing to win.
Alexandra Saviorby Lilly Eason
Women don’t have to act strong to be powerful. Women can be vulnerable and truthful about their emotions and it doesn’t take away from their internal strength or sense of self; in fact it does the opposite, it shows the courage to feel honestly. Alexandra Savior’s moody, melancholic style is evocative of that soft power in a multitude of ways. In “Crying All The Time,” Savior speaks of a man who doesn’t like it when she cries but once he’s gone, she cries all the time. I think there’s a lot you could take away from this.
On the one hand, the absence of this man whose own feelings, his dislike of her tears, held her back from expressing herself is now gone, so she’s free to cry as much as she wants, to feel as much and express herself however she needs. But on the other hand, it exposes something more delicate and tragic, that this man was the key to her happiness and that now that he’s gone she’s really sad. Though the first could be seen as more empowering, neither diminishes Savior’s identity. In both, she’s being true to herself, honestly expressing her emotions as they actually are. And it’s one of the most powerful things a person can do.
Beyoncéby Josh Weiner
What can possibly be written about Beyoncé that hasn’t been written many times before? Uhh how ’bout this: “Happy 20th Birthday, to ‘Crazy in Love’!” We’ll get to formally pop the champagne bottles on May 14th, when the official 20th anniversary of Beyoncé’s debut single as a lead artist arrives, but why waste any time celebrating Beyoncé as one of the essential women in music today, just as she was back in the early ’00s? On the heels of an eight-week run at #1, “Crazy in Love” demonstrated that Beyoncé was more than well-equipped for post-Destiny’s Child life. Given everything that this song has opened the door to over the past 20 years— all the way up to her excellent latest album, Renaissance, released this past July— “Crazy in Love” is even more gratifying to listen to nowadays. Hubby Jay-Z is known to brag at times, but when he hollered “History in the making!” in the song’s opening moments, he sure wasn’t outside the bounds of fair speech.
Boyishby Mitch Mosk
Time and time again, Boyish keep proving themselves to be one of Brooklyn’s best and brightest sparks. As creatively prolific as their lyrics are profound, the indie rock duo of India Shore and Claire Altendahl have become a fixture and a favorite here at Atwood Magazine, dazzling us for three year straight with “beautifully intimate, vulnerable, and exhilarating” songs that nosedive into the depths of our fragile hearts and tender souls. 2021’s We’re all gonna die, but here’s my contribution captured the band’s unapologetic spirit and fiery passion, and last year’s roller-coaster of raw emotion My Friend Mica made its way onto our list of 2022’s Best EPs of the Year. Given all this, it should come as no surprise that I fell headfirst for Boyish’s first song of the year, and yet the duo continue to surprise, inspire, and enthrall.
Achingly intimate and sonically intoxicating, “Girls Are Mean” is a raw and radiant indie rock reckoning peel back the scars and dwelling in the dark depths of a broken down soul: An unrelenting rush of feverish emotion and ethereal and urgent indie pop, the first single off Boyish’s third EP in three years envelops our ears and our hearts, demanding our attention as the band candidly spill their souls in song. The music feels dark and light at the same time: Waxy, ethereal atmospherics contrast brilliantly with softer vocals, whilst the beat seems to grow increasingly intense until like a boiling pot, it all spills over:
CGI tears, girls are mean
At least you look so heroine chic
Your words are pressing down on me
We all tried it when we were 18
He won’t leave, easily
You built your life on something so weak, without me
If the world is constantly churning all around us, then “Girls Are Mean” is as much a reflection of that madness as it is an oasis for our tired and weary souls. Boyish can’t deliver us from sin, but they can sure as hell entertain us, inspire us, and take our minds off the madness – even for just a little while. Soak up everything this song and this band have to offer; a beautifully immersive powerhouse of raw feeling and soul-stirring sound, Boyish are ready to unlock our innermost emotions.
Courtney Barnettby Lilly Eason
The range which Courtney Barnett spans in her discography speaks not only to a singular life lived, but to the shared experiences of many women. In “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch,” she so poignantly notes a common feeling among women of being objectified and casted into two demographics; the mother, i.e. the nagging caretaker who’s easily walked over or the bitch, the sexual object whose voice is unwanted and inconsequential because her body is all that matters.
“Put up or shut up,” she says, “it’s all the same, never changes, never changes.” It’s a simple and concise line but a powerful one, speaking to the subjugation, silencing, and sexualization of both the mother and the bitch in just a few words. To me, this song is one of empowerment, calling out women’s social casting and rejecting it, saying “I’m neither a mother nor a bitch, and to you they’re basically the same thing, they’re both just ways of taking away womens’ voice and humanity. You can tell me to put up, you can tell me to shut up, it’s the same thing. And I won’t do either.”
Fiona Appleby Minna Abdel-Gawad
Fiona Apple can easily be named one of the most controversial yet inspiring artists of the 21st century. From her harrowing debut album Tidal, that focus on teenage girlhood, to her most recent album Fetch The Bolt Cutters created in her home studio with items from her environment as a commentary on her life, Apple has shown her musical range time and time again. Well spoken, articulate and using her platform for good, the alternative pop artist has been making massive strides in the industry since she was 18-years-old. Rising to stardom in a time where her art was constantly trivialized, Apple fought to be take seriously by those blocking her way. Yet despite this, almost three decades later, she is still sharing her art but taking full control over it.
Apple has always displayed her sharp wit and off kilter intelligence in the complex, multi-faceted issues she explores through her cinematic tracks. Apple is a poet at heart with her lyricism reflecting depth, sensitivity and unfiltered honesty. Apple writes in constant conversation, begging to be understood many times speaking to the female condition, reflected in the lyrics “And it doesn’t make sense/ I should fall for the kingcraft of a meritless crown.” She rejects this structure she is shoved into, constantly battling against the “meritless crown” that is the world. her words are a blade and her listeners are cut with the sharpness of her tongue. The singer explores everything from festering rage to bone aching sadness to self destruction, having this innate ability to emote in just her vocals and a piano. It has often been said that when an artist fully understands their instrument they begin to sound like it too, this is entirely true for Apple. Her best music is always when it is her and her piano, ebbing and flowing with the emotions poured into her writing. I could write pages dedicated to her artistry, strength and complexities, I urge everyone who appreciates current alternative artists to listen to Apple as she paved the way for many in the industry now.
HAIMby Rachel Leong
A staple of modern music, their last album suitably titled Women In Music Pt. III, HAIM reliably bring back ’70s rock fusion with a modern twist. Absolute powerhouses on the stage, and stellar producers behind the scenes – HAIM brings back the rock n’ roll star trope in the best way possible. As veteran multi-instrumentalists, HAIM’s artistry has been uniquely their own since the start – and the bold reinvention of classic songwriting styles rings true throughout all their projects.
Joy Oladokunby Mitch Mosk
Joy Oladokun was a personal favorite long before the major label record deals, the headline tours, the features and collaborations – and if she wasn’t already the voice of a generation then (I would argue she already was), she’s definitely stepping into that role now.
The Nashville-based singer/songwriter has always had a way of not only bringing listeners intimately close to her and her world, but also building bridges that connect with something deep inside every one of us. That singular talent has only grown stronger over recent years, and it’s shining brighter than ever these days. The latest single taken off her forthcoming third full-length album, Proof of Life (out April 28), “Changes” is a heart-on-sleeve confessional that feels more cathartic than it does embroiled: A gorgeous, glistening song built around a few tender acoustic guitars, softly smoldering horns, and Oladokun’s golden, emotionally charged voice, the track is at once wistful and hopeful. “I hate change, but I’ve come of age, think I’m finally finding my way,” Oladokun proclaims at the start, her words resonating with profound warmth and sincerity. “Danced with chaos, every occasion, looks me up every day. Even when I’m tired and low there is gold in this river that is carrying me home.” Here she leans inward for meaning and strength to guide her in her worst moments; in spite of the world’s often unbearable weight, she’s always got a reason to persevere and carry on; to seek the light in the darkness – a notion she further explores in the song’s second verse, where she drops this poignant, breathtaking rhetorical question: “What it’s like to hope again and again, knowing that heartache’s gonna be there ’til the end?“
For all its soul-stirring, tear-jerking wonder, “Changes” is a comforting song of staying power, belief in oneself, and belief in one’s causes. Oladokun hits her high in a catchy and cathartic singalong chorus that aches as it shines:
Newspaper says the world’s on fire
People yelling and the water’s rising
It’s easy to feel kinda anxious
Yeah, we’ve thought it was the end of time
We’re still holding on and we’re still trying
Life’s always been a little dangerous
But I don’t wanna stay the samе, so
I’m tryna keep up with the changes
I’m tryna keep up with the changеs
This world will eat you up and spit you out if you’re not careful. It’s far easier to get lost than it is to be found, but that’s also why a song like this, that nakedly recognizes just how hard life can be, can resonate so deeply for so many people. Oladokun calls Proof of Life a collection of “helpful anthems,” and “Changes” is the proof-point of that statement. “I hope this resonates with anybody who feels normal and needs a little musical boost to get through the day,” she adds. “I’m average. I do this job because I love what I do. I put so much care, craft, and intention into it. I’m making music to live to.”
She sings not just for herself, but for all of us. A beautifully raw song of strength and self-determination, “Changes” is an anthem for the every day – and Joy Oladokun is, without a doubt, the voice of a generation.
Lainey Wilsonby Lauren Turner
Lainey Wilson came into country music with a fire in her soul. She has stayed true to herself and her roots which shine through in her new album Bell Bottom Country, released on November 28, 2022. Her leading single, “Heart Like A Truck,” is powerful as she explains how no matter what she has been through her heart is strong. She will never give up on her dreams. “A truck that has hit a few bumps and earned a few scratches has proved itself and its tenacity…the shiny one on the lot can’t say that,” she said in a YouTube comment. “I’ve been through some shit. We all have. But when you get through it, you’re stronger and better for it on the other side. Nothing can hold me back from moving forward and finding a way to enjoy life, no matter what. I hope this song and video reminds y’all of that!”
Wilson’s strength in the music industry is her honesty and openness. Bell Bottom Country features songs such as “Atta Girl” and “Live Off,” which emphasize the strength of women and are odes to who you are and where you are from. Her music reminds women that the things they have been through make them the beautiful women they are today. No matter what chapters we go through in life, whether they are good or bad, they are a part of us. They make us stronger, wiser and add to our beauty.
Lexie Liuby Isabella Le
An artist that breaks both geographical and creative borders, Chinese singer-songwriter Lexie Liu is no stranger to bridging cultures and genres with her music. Fusing Eastern culture with Western soundscapes and extraterrestrial storytelling, Liu’s work has never been anything short of magic – with bold vocal textures, celestial themes, and unbounded experimentation, her artistry never fails to empower, energize, and expand.
Nodding to the industrial rock influences of Nine Inch Nails in the tarot-inspired “DIABLO,” Liu seamlessly transitions between Mandarin, English, and Spanish as atmospheric synths swirl over gritty grunge beats. Representative of how “The Devil” card in tarot symbolizes gluttony, greed, and oppressive cycles, Liu’s “DIABLO” recounts falling victim to superficial temptations and triumphantly overcoming them. Naturally, the song stood out to me as a longtime tarot reader and Nine Inch Nails fan; at heart, however, Liu’s musicianship serves as a reminder of what it means to be a feminine Asian creative.
Lizzoby Lauren Turner
Lizzo is the epitome of a boss woman. Not only is she crushing it on the charts at the moment but she radiates joy and happiness everywhere she goes. Boosting in confidence and reminding women around the world of the respect they deserve and what they are capable of is a superpower, and she does it effortlessly.
Earlier in her career, Lizzo released “Good as Hell” and “Truth Hurts.” Both became massive songs and anthems for women around the world. Filled with self-empowerment and fun upbeats, the two tracks had a positive impact on the music industry. It was refreshing to have songs that not only lifted women up but spoke highly of them too. She has continued to make that a mission throughout her career. Her album Special was released on July 15, 2022, and has many motivational and inspirational tracks. “About Damn Time” also won Record of the Year at the Grammys, a song about picking yourself up after a hard time and reminding yourself of your worth. Lizzo’s career is just getting started and it’s super exciting to have such an empowering woman in the music industry.
Maggie Rogersby Beau Hayhoe
Maggie Rogers is used to dealing with the spotlight — first, the intense one put on her after she sang her soon-to-be-hit “Alaska” in a viral NYU senior class performance in front of none other than Pharrell. The spotlight soon ramped up to a dizzying, blinding scale, as she sold out major venues and appeared on festival bills — in large font — without a proper album to her name. Rogers proved herself an unquestionable star right from the jump, at every level and in every way possible. Since those heady days, Rogers has released two acclaimed LPs, showing remarkable grace under pressure and courage while advocating for women’s rights all the while. If the next generation of pop stars need a beacon of hope, Rogers is like a light in the harbor.
Mitskiby Dimitra Gurduiala
When we talk about Mitski, we tend to categorize her as just another sad girl who makes songs for sad girls – yet there is so, so much more behind it. One thing I would like to point out is that in her music, Mitski brings a lot of her experience as an Asian woman who grew up in the United States. It’s of course a totally different culture from her own, as she shows with the powerful “Your Best American Girl” or with the music video for “Happy”. Ever since she was young, she had to struggle in various ways with living in Western society, from dealing with the completely distorted beauty standards (deeply influenced by racism) and the fetishization to which non-Caucasian women are constantly subjected in every environment, especially in the entertainment industry. Mitski’s songs may be for sad girls, but they are also songs for powerful immigrant women who aren’t afraid to let their feelings out.
Nita Straussby Andrew Daly
I love Nita Strauss’ tracks “The Stillness at the End,” and “Algeria.” In addition to being Alice Cooper and Demi Lovato’s guitarist, Strauss is an inspiration for all young musicians. To relegate her to a “female guitarist,” or to state she’s purely an “inspiration to women” would be doing her a disservice. Strauss is a legend, her stature in music only seems to grow year over year. Her story, skill, and perseverance are to be admired. In 20 years time, we will look back on Nita Strauss as a linchpin of a generation.
Olivia Deanby Rachel Leong
From power ballads like “The Hardest Part”, “Be My Own Boyfriend” and more recently, “Danger,” Olivia Dean talks about love, self-love and the in-between. Dean possesses a subtle power that shines through her musicality and lyricism. From lifting other female creatives in her space, her music videos infuse powerful imagery of identity, cementing her artistry as powerhouse with a message. Dean’s ability to be unapologetically herself has always inspired me, as another woman, to do the same.
Otoboke Beaverby Nick Matthopoulos
Hailing from Japan, Otoboke Beaver is a raging, bombastic, and energized burst of grind-y punk rock and riot grrl. From their stellar second album, Super Champon, “I am not maternal” is, at face value, the band’s way of rejecting society’s maternal expectations of them. At a deeper glance, and with the help of Lyric Genius’ rough translation, the band seems to be sounding off against not just maternity, but generational expectations of continued lineage as well. Otoboke Beaver, steadfast in their beliefs, rip through this banger in a way feels like what the sonic equivalent of intense heart palpitations must must feel like.
Overcoatsby Mitch Mosk
Brooklyn duo Overcoats have always been winners in my book, but their third album is about to make it official: Set for release April 7 via their own imprint Never Fall Back Records, Winner captures JJ Mitchell and Hana Elion at their very best as they blend their soul-stirring voices together in a melting pop of raw vulnerability and indie pop wonder. From their earliest recordings to their latest material, Overcoats have long been a source of cathartic light and inspiration. Their achingly intimate lyrics and breathtaking vocal harmonies, all set against a backdrop of warm organic and electronic arrangements, never cease to amaze and enchant.
Winner‘s songs are especially breathtaking: Lead single “Horsegirl” dwells in a cathartic space of reflection and renewal, finding Mitchel and Elion’s voices shimmering over a radiant, dreamy, emotionally-drenched backdrop that feels as heavy as it does sweet. Its follow-up, “Never Let You Go,” injects deep, smoldering indie pop grooves into a pure expression of unbridled passion and untethered emotion; the pair have never sounded so visceral as they do here, their voices unleashed in near-perfect unison as they dwell in the mess of love and heartbreak. Blending pain and hope, the impassioned title track “Winner” is a beautiful ballad of empowerment that shines through a spirited, uplifting chorus: “And every ending has a new beginning. There’s always space out there for something different. I’m on my way to find it…” The album’s brand new fourth single, “New Suede Shoes,” is another empowering, groovy, and glistening track that takes a long, hard look in the mirror – ultimately finding any number of reasons to stand tall and shine bright.
Needless to say, Overcoats are on a “winning streak” right now, making some of the boldest, rawest, and most vulnerable work of their entire career.
Pom Pom Squadby Claire Meyer
Pom Pom Squad takes the anger of ’90s grunge and riot grrrl acts like Hole and Bikini Kill and adds a modern touch, reminding us that not much has changed in the past 30 years. Frontwoman (or head cheerleader in this case) Mia Berrin not only explores her femininity through the music she makes, but also through her stage presentation. As the band name suggests, Berrin typically wears a cheerleader costume while performing. The stark contrast between her prim and preppy costume and the dark, grungy music she makes is its own statement in how women are labeled from appearances alone.
Reyaby Joe Beer
London based dark pop artist Reya recently released her first single under her new name, after taking some time to rebrand and begin a new chapter for her music. The fresh start for Reya is a way for her to put her foot down and take complete control over her sound, style and ultimately her career. “attention” embodies this new era, as she sings about living unapologetically yourself. The songwriter shares, “To me it represents power. The power to stand up for myself and what I feel is right. To stand against people, especially men, who choose to ruin careers whenever they feel threatened.”
This boss-ass energy radiates brightly in “attention” as it demonstrates everything Reya stands for. With lyrics in both English and Spanish, it even pays homage to her heritage, further emphasizing the importance of being proud of who you are, where you’re from and the journey you are on.
Sophie Lloydby Andrew Daly
If you missed her debut EP, Delusions, be sure you don’t miss her first LP, Imposter Syndrome. As skilled as she is affable, Sophie Lloyd is a key cog in the next wave of guitar-based heroics in music. Sadly, clickbait “journalists” – as they always do – have tried to undermine her for growing her career with Machine Gun Kelly. Moreover, those same “journalists” tried to drag her down with ugly rumors. But no matter, Lloyd’s talent, grace, and poise prevailed. Be sure to check out her single, “Fall of Man,” and bask in her shredding melodicism. Lloyd is an example of prevailing in the face of media who perpetually tries to drag young artists down. If that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what is.
SZAby Josh Weiner
Since it’s graven in stone that Best-of-the-Year lists have to get published before the year is actually over, an album like SOS, released on December 9th, wasn’t fortunate enough to make the cut for many Top Albums of 2022 rankings (including ours, alas). To partially make up for that here, I am giving SZA a well-deserved shout-out as one of the most essential women in the music biz today, and also highlighting the deliciously dark and hypnotic murder fantasy of “Kill Bill” as one of the songs that best demonstrates that status. The guts and vocal chords that this singer possesses are a rare and precious combination, indeed. It’s great to have SZA back after a lengthy album hiatus (even though it never felt like she went away for too long, thanks to Black Panther, “Kiss Me More,” Travis Scott and others).
The Stavesby Mitch Mosk
For me, no female act shines with quite as much beauty, light, and wonder as The Staves. This isn’t the first time I’ve highlighted them in a list like this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last; for ten-plus years, the Staveley-Taylor sisters (Camilla, Emily, and Jessica) have been weaving worlds of stirringly intimate folk and folk-adjacent wonder. Whatever they do and wherever they go, they leave a path of stunned listeners in their wake. 2021’s beautiful third LP Good Woman is the quintessential example of their lyrical and musical excellence at work. Dedicated to their mother, their grandmothers, to all the women who’ve guided them throughout their lives, and to each other, Good Woman aches with raw emotion, candid, confessional lyrics, and deep, soul-stirring intent as The Staves ride that turbulent, but sometimes magical, roller-coaster of life’s highs and lows.
My highlights used to be songs like the radiant anthem “Good Woman” and the sun-soaked serenade “Devotion,” but of late I’ve found myself transfixed by the delicate, raw, heart-on-sleeve fragility of “Paralysed” – a poignant lament about feeling trapped in an emotional space you can’t get yourself out of alone – and “Sparks,” the celestial, heartbreakingly poignant, and loving tribute to the sisters’ late mother. “Say you will be my little light in the dark,” Jessica Staveley-Taylor sings. Her voice rings out, a beacon of hope in an empty room that steadily fills with light, thanks in large part to her sisters’ breathtaking vocal harmonies. “All the love you have hidden in the dark. Waiting for a moment, waiting for a spark. Higher love, I’ll love you now.” It’s not just that I lost my own mother; The Staves create a safe, comforting space in which we can feel whatever feeling or feelings we need to feel. Whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, you’re welcome here; Good Woman is a sanctuary, and after two years of writing about it and listening to it, I think I’ve finally figured out what it is that truly makes this album timeless.
Weyes Bloodby Sophie Severs
“A lot’s gonna change in your lifetime” Weyes Blood, (AKA Natalie Mering), asserts in “A Lot’s Gonna Change,” the opening track to her 2019 record, Titanic Rising. Though, Mering herself could not have predicted the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into now. Even with fighting on all sides and dystopian ideals becoming omnipresent factors of modern-day human life, Mering still manages to weather the storm; she is a radiant beacon of light shining from a lighthouse in the midst of a torrential storm — constant and true. Juggling cautious optimism and climate-change dread, Mering has always acted as a rational soloist in a cacophonic choir of chaos. A true pioneer in the realm of psychedelic folk, her melodies bring these so-often convoluted issues to light, as Mering calmly tries to make sense of the madness that is life in the present. While we might not know what the future will hold for mankind, we can rest easy knowing that Mering and her art will always be there to guide us through it.
Xanaby Joe Beer
“Bad Bandit,” the brand new single from Canadian artist Xana, is the epitome of female empowerment. With the singer stepping into the shoes of a country Western version of Harley Quinn, she sings about refusing to be messed around by anyone. She is her own bad bandit and there will be mighty consequences if anyone gets in her way. This single is the sonic representation of Xana’s desire to create her own old western WLW story. Although this single steps into a different category genre-wise for the songwriter, it still stays true to her criteria of writing music which encompasses themes of female empowerment, LGBTQ romance, sex positivity and self-discovery. Xana is the artist to listen to when you need a pick me up!
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