Intimate and soulful, Massachusetts artist Naomi Westwater’s latest EP ‘Feelings’ is music that you should feel in your bones.
Stream: “Feeling My Feelings” – Naomi Westwater
I’m nervous and relieved to finally have ‘Feelings’ out in the world after two-and-a-half years of working on it. I’m nervous because this music is political, it’s heavy at times, and I’m not sure how it will be received. But ultimately I’m excited because it’s my contribution to the conversation about race, climate change, chronic pain, and the state of the world today.
You can get to know yourself and the world around you in many ways. You could try meditating, creating works of art, writing, listening to music… Or even reading tarot cards. There is one card in particular that makes me think a lot about the artist we are going to talk about today. She’s a mermaid with the voice of an angel, her name is Naomi Westwater.
The card I mentioned earlier is the Hanged Man, the twelfth major arcana – and one of the most mysterious and enigmatic cards in the entire deck. The Hanged Man is first of all very attached to his beliefs, and thanks to this he manages to be heedless of other people’s unconstructive criticism. He feels at peace because he’s confident in his values and abilities, and inspires others to do so.
Even in dark times, the Hanged Man can find a silver lining in small things, since he looks at the world from a different perspective. He goes against conformity and injustice, he lets his light shine having no expectations of what could happen. After all, change is inevitable, so why bothering in the first place? To sum it up, this is a card that encourages you to go and break free of your chains and motivate everyone else to taste that very same freedom.
Similarly, Westwater seeks to stir people’s consciences with her latest, touching EP Feelings. In a way, we could say that Westwater is also close to the card of the Fool. They are constantly traveling, exploring, searching for their true self. It is a card that’s often associated with air, and with growing and changing continuously. In a world that is never big enough for a powerful soul like Westwater’s, though.
It is no coincidence that Feelings begins with the phrase “My body is not my home”. Westwater’s soul translates into music. We can just feel the pain they’ve been dealing with (also) because of endometriosis, we’re fascinated by their immense sense of justice – and, oh, there’s so much more in such a short record. It’s a very political EP, strong and sincere. It’s about police violence, religion, being a multiracial queer woman, and not really feeling part of the nation she lives in. Westwater starts this journey from here, by trying to understand what home is for her.
It’s not her body, it’s not where she lives, she’s just a free spirit traveling aimlessly. Moving forward on the record, Westwater gets more and more in touch with her innermost emotions, her fears, her anger at a world that denies climate change (while it is literally burning!). Feelings gathers the frustration and concern of millions of people whose voices are suffocated by those who would rather not see the rotten side of the world we are living in. Westwater’s intention is to put all these voices together and become their spokesperson, to provoke discomfort in those who try to ignore the chaos that surrounds us.
This is music that you should feel in your bones, listen to it with your soul and sing it with your heart.
You can experience this by listening to our below stream, and peek inside the EP with Atwood Magazine as Naomi Westwater goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of Feelings!
Stream: ‘Feelings’ – Naomi Westwater
:: Inside Feelings ::
As contradictory as it may seem, “Home” is a song about an uninhabitable place, Naomi’s body. It’s “barren” as it is suffering from endometriosis, it’s an incredibly uncomfortable and painful place to live in. “Home” is a song of pain that immediately hints at the honest and deep themes that characterize this EP.
Feeling My Feelings
Invisible illnesses are terrible. They cause immense pain, have dozens of symptoms that add to the patient’s suffering – and to make matters worse, people often don’t believe in this kind of illness. Because if you can’t see it it doesn’t exist, or it’s not that bad, right? Speaking of endometriosis, add the internalized misogyny that often prevents a proper diagnosis. Well, this is definitely a depressing scenario for women and people suffering from invisible conditions in general. “Feeling My Feelings” is dedicated to all of them, to those who feel that their pain is ignored by others. So, it’s not hard to see how a song about endometriosis also fits perfectly with police violence, an issue that to this day no one wants to take care of.
This is a song about spirituality, that Naomi wrote after the death of her godmother. Westwater thinks about the connection between her and the meaning of religion in general. She’s not sure God exists, she has “no faith or bible”, but she feels that someone is there with and for her, she feels a reassuring presence that makes her feel loved. Could they have communed?
If after all that’s been happening in the world there are people who still don’t believe in climate change, my faith in humanity is seriously at risk. Fires and desertification increased at least by 150%, there have been almost 200 flood victims (only in Europe!). Unfortunately, the list could go on and on. Our planet is dying, but above all, we are dying with it. With “Strange Weather” Naomi asks those who don’t believe in climate change to pay attention, to look around, and do something to avoid the worst-case scenario. Because, in the end, if we reach the point of no return Mother Nature will still be able to recover, but we won’t.
As a foreign-born girl living in a racist country, I relate to this song way too much. Westwater sings about her experience as a multiracial woman in America and that strange feeling where you feel like you don’t belong there. As if it wasn’t enough, you also feel like that country doesn’t really want you, even though you’ve lived there for years. “Americana” was born after Naomi spent 6 months in Rio de Janeiro, where she began to realize that no, they don’t belong to America at all. In fact, they lost all their identification because America buried it.
“Strange Fruit” is the perfect conclusion to the EP. The artist started singing it while studying jazz in college, but couldn’t help but add it to Feelings given how relevant it is to today. It’s a reminder of the violence black people still face every single day, of the blood that too many people have spilled, and with no real results. The fight for civil rights is never really over, quite the contrary. It’s time to stand together fighting, now more than ever.
:: stream/buy Feelings here ::
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? © blahnik x westwater
:: Stream Naomi Westwater ::