Full of heart and yearning, pain and passion, ‘Cold Immaculate Opposite’ resonates with stunning emotion as Brooklyn’s Sarah Cicero spills her soul in song.
Stream: ‘Cold Immaculate Opposite’ – Sarah Cicero
A beautifully expressive hot mess of a debut, Sarah Cicero’s debut EP is as poignant as it is glistening: A five-track intimate upheaval showcasing an exciting new singer/songwriter with that special spark. Full of heart and yearning, pain and passion, Cold Immaculate Opposite resonates with stunning emotion as Sarah Cicero spills her soul in song.
Atticus, I’ve taken up smoking
Time moves so slowly
When you’re not around
Atticus, I’m making a fool of myself
By not finding someone else
But I’ll float away if you don’t hold me down
I was never what you wanted
And you were never really mine
But that hasn’t stopped me from loving you all this time
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Sarah Cicero’s debut EP Cold Immaculate Opposite, out April 9, 2021. Produced by Sahil Ansari (Margaux, Glom), Cicero’s first project offers a driving, buoyant mix of indie pop sonics and introspective lyrics that tap into a heavy heart – one whose moment of reckoning feels long overdue. Cicero conveys her raw, confessional lyrics through vivid stories of connection, loss, and reflection. It’s a record of healing and catharsis, and “all of the uncertainty and nebulousness that is being a twenty-something,” as her team puts it: “It’s proof that even in isolation it takes a village.”
“I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember, but over the spring and summer of 2019, I wrote four songs that just felt different,” Cicero recalls in conversation with Atwood Magazine. “They felt more resonant than the ones I’d written before, more real. And it was a strong enough lack of precedence that made me want to do something unprecedented and make an album. I met my producer, Sahil Ansari, through mutual friends, which was serendipitous on so many levels. Sahil and I planned to start work on the album in January 2020, after he got back from a trip—this is a relevant detail because the day after he got back I played him a half-written song from the week before, which would eventually turn into the fifth song of a now fully-formed EP. Over the next six months, we fleshed out arrangements, brought in friends to play and come up with instrumental parts, and just generally immersed ourselves in the creation of this record. It was a really special process and I feel a lot of gratitude for the way that it went. To be able to involve so many people you love and admire in the creation of something so close to your heart is rare and beautiful and I don’t take it for granted.”
“I didn’t have a vision, I really just wanted to record these songs I’d written. It was my first album, it was my first time ever doing anything like this, and I came with only lyrics and music and simple instrumentation to offer. But I loved Sahil’s work and, after getting to know him, it became clear that I could trust him to guide me through this process, and also trust him with a certain level of input and creative control over the songs. Over the course of recording the album, I eventually found faith that I could steer this ship even as I felt so out of my depth. I struggled with a fair amount of imposter syndrome and insecurity in the beginning, but gradually I realized that, even if you’re just telling someone “this works for me” or “this doesn’t,” not only is that enough information, but it’s actually really valuable information.”
Didn’t think I’d ever see you ‘round here again
You look older than you did in the spring
And maybe I seemed a little more aloof than you’re used to
But I’m done being accommodating
Your head’s gotten bigger since the last time
Guess you and your ego are getting by just fine
The only thing I liked at all
Was that you were over 6 feet tall
But you’re done making me feel small
So please don’t call
– “Letter to the Editor,” Sarah Cicero
The title Cold Immaculate Opposite is its own nod to the plundering, volatile depths reached in these songs: “Okay, so I originally intended it to be a secret for the listener to decode, but will give you a hint,” Cicero says. “What’s the opposite of cold and immaculate? The answer is what I had originally decided to call the EP, before I was advised to try being a bit more mysterious.”
The resulting EP hits all the marks, and feels especially timely as the weather warms up this April. Cicero’s songs, so full of complex emotion, are each a beacon of sonic light and charming effervescence. Her energy is nothing but authentic, and it is with this resonant sense of sincerity that such stunning songs like “At Arm’s Length” and “Letter to the Editor” hit home with Cicero’s audience.
Confess my love at least once a season
Convince myself that I mean it
But the words don’t taste like you do
So many nicer boys than you have caught echoes of the phrase
When I thought maybe I could stay
But I’ve never really wanted to
Summer fades to winter
And you—you breathe spring
I want to meet your parents
Want to take you to my mother’s grave
I want to plan vacations
I want to double date
I want the real thing, the flawed thing, the right thing
I want to not be afraid
I want to wake up curled around you in the morning
I want to want to stay
I feel like Cold Immaculate Opposite paints such an accurate picture of myself and my artistry: Unfiltered vulnerability with a little bit of chaos.
Even in written conversation, Cicero comes off as wholeheartedly genuine: A person who willingly shares her full self, a quality she even eludes to in the aforementioned title “At Arm’s Length.”
“I prefer to describe myself as a writer and singer than a songwriter, which maybe doesn’t make sense, but what I mean is that the writing is what drives the music,” Cicero explains. “So there’s a lyrical thread throughout the album weaving the songs together, while the arrangement and sound of each song is a little scattered across the genre map. It’s a strong representation of my creative process. I’m a little scattered!”
Cicero cites her EP’s closer “Proud” as her personal highlight. “Ironically enough, the song I’m proudest of is actually called “Proud.” It’s just the most honest and vulnerable song I’ve ever written, about a time in my life that felt very dark. And what I take pride in isn’t even necessarily the song itself, but the sheer fact that it’s on the EP and that I chose to release it and be that exposed in the name of authentic connection. The arrangement is so beautiful and simple, and Sahil and I worked really hard to get it just right. He played Juno on the outro, and I hummed over it. I didn’t even know he was recording at first, I was just humming, and then he told me to harmonize — fun fact: The hums in the song are the first and only takes, Sahil identified them as a special addition and then wouldn’t let me rerecord them! The outro ties the song together in a really meaningful way. So I chose to end the album with that song and that outro is the last thing you hear. A definitive favorite song, though, is “At Arm’s Length.” Listening to the instrumentation at the choruses and outro (especially the violin!) makes me feel like I’m listening to a movie soundtrack. I wish I could take credit for that, but I played 0 instruments on the track, so it was all Sahil and the other musicians. They brought my faint vision to life, I just cheered them on.”
Devastatingly visceral, “Proud” is a true moment of turbulence and reckoning for Cicero as she closes her EP:
It’s too early in the morning to be crying on my kitchen floor
Feel it in my bones, don’t want to live like this anymore
Haven’t slept a single night this week
I just don’t like the things I see when I’m asleep
I’ve lost a lot, I’m a mess
Easier to keep my distance
Longing, but I don’t know what for
Don’t recognize myself anymore
And when I stop to look around,
I’m not sure I’ve made my mother proud
Stepping back from this initial offering, Cicero is energized and excited for her music to make its mark – whatever that may be.
“I hope it resonates with people. That was the whole point. Sometimes I feel a certain way, and when I hear or see art made by people who also felt that way, it makes me feel less alone. Being as sensitive as I am and writing the way I do, I think lends itself to a certain desire to also be that kind of conduit for human connection. Making music is hard—creating anything is hard. You have to go deep within and then find the courage to be open about the mess of emotions and experiences inside. Creating this was an act of extreme catharsis, and releasing it is too, but in a completely different way. Because choosing to create and then creating is difficult, but choosing to share what you’ve created and offer it to everyone is a whole different beast. What I’ve taken away from creating this record is to just keep writing songs—and make sure to not get sucked into the pressure cooker that is the “every song I write from now on needs to be release-worthy and better than anything I’ve ever created” mindset, because that’s actually toxic and unsustainable and takes all the joy out of making art. And what I’ve taken away from the experience of releasing Cold Immaculate Opposite is that I need to take myself less seriously! This is not a path I can chart so I’m trying to just be grateful for the experience, whatever it ends up looking like.”
This is just the beginning for a fresh, exciting talent out of Brooklyn: The best may still be yet to come, but Cicero will remember her first EP as one that was uncompromisingly true – a set of songs that exposed an artist whose music comes from, and speaks to the heart. Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Sarah Cicero’s Cold Immaculate Opposite EP with Atwood Magazine as the artist goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her debut EP!
Stream: ‘Cold Immaculate Opposite’ – Sarah Cicero
:: Inside Cold Immaculate Opposite ::
Atticus captures the darker side of pining, with sultry vocals and a psychedelic outro to convey feelings of resignation and loss.
Indifferent is a laidback Rhodes-driven song with plaintive lyrics about feeling small, unwanted, and stuck.
Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor is an upbeat indie pop/rock ode to men who think “being tall” is a personality trait.
At Arm’s Length
At Arm’s Length is an earnest, wistful love song, telling the story of a girl finally ready to let herself experience the raw vulnerability of partnership, even as she is kept at arm’s length.
Proud is an unfiltered glimpse of rock-bottom, with simple instrumentation to balance out the gravity of the lyrics, and an emotive outro juxtaposing deep synth rumbles with sweet, lilting hums.
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📸 © 2021
:: Stream Sarah Cicero ::