Singer/songwriter Savannah Conley effortlessly captures not just unrest, but inner angst and raw reeling on her ‘Best I Can’ EP, twisting and turning in the beautiful turmoil of everyday life channeled through captivating sound.
for fans of Phoebe Bridgers, Lorde, COIN
“Always Gonna Happen” – Savannah Conley
To say things have been a little chaotic lately would probably be the understatement of the year; we entered the 2020s with the same sense of refreshed renewal and optimistic hope anyone might take with them into a new decade, and ever since then it’s really been one thing after another; wherever you are, there seems no denying that the urgency of global issues, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate crisis, seems to mirror the turbulence we, as individuals, experience in our own personal lives. Maybe everyone’s just on edge after being cooped up for so long, that we’re still making up for lost time. Maybe we’re all panicking in the face of existential dangers coming far too close to home for us to avoid or ignore any longer. Or maybe we’re all just growing up very fast.
Regardless, this writer can certainly attest to increasingly feeling like a ship lost at sea, and so can singer/songwriter Savannah Conley, whose recent three-track EP effortlessly captures not just external unrest, but inner angst and raw reeling. Twisting and turning in the beautiful turmoil of everyday life, Best I Can is eleven minutes of unapologetic upheaval channeled through passionate, captivating alt-rock. Musically, emotionally, and lyrically charged, Conley’s songs are at once draining and inspiring: She has a way of breaking us down through her art, only to build us back up again.
It says, “No dancing” on the sign
But I ignore it everytime
Should have more than Christmas lights
To charge this much for beer
Known this place since I was young
Fake I.D. lies on my tongue
Everybody same as me
Coming here to try in peace
You got five hundred dollars to your name
Like that’s enough to start again
The second that I was your friend
Until you got the tab
Released June 28, 2022, Best I Can feels like the very beginning of Savannah Conley’s next chapter – like a “new level” has been unlocked within the Nashville-based singer/songwriter. She’s come a long way from the smooth croons of 2018’s Twenty-Twenty EP, now more than ever embodying a kind of alternative/indie folk sound best associated with such artists as Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker. There’s grit in her guitar and pain in her voice as she spills herself in vivid music and unfiltered songwriting.
“This EP came out of a time when I just really needed to make music for fun, so getting to get together with my friends with no time constraints or pressure was so so fun,” Conley tells Atwood Magazine, explaining her new songs offer a no-holds-barred deep dive into life in our 20s. “There are things in your 20s that are never going to happen again. There are situations you experience that make you feel like your world is falling apart, but you learn to get back up. These new songs are all about experiences that I thought were going to wreck my life forever… and then they don’t. We’re all still standing.”
This truly is a give no f***s record; Conley herself even describes it as such.
The Best I Can title “felt tongue in cheek to me,” she says. “There’s obviously a song on there with that title, but essentially everything you put out has to just be the best you’ve got, and when you release something there’s always a kind of hands up mentality post-release.”
Conley made a memorable return – and laid a bit of groundwork for this EP – earlier this year with “Always Gonna Happen,” her first single of the year and the follow-up to 2021’s intimate coming-of-age Surprise, Surprise EP. “A tender and dynamic upheaval, ‘Always Gonna Happen’ is a beautiful reckoning with life’s inevitable throes: The moments that rock us and shake us, and the ways in which we learn to (or are forced to) grow up fast when faced with a need to navigate those more difficult and tricky situations,” we wrote in our 67th Editor’s Picks. There’s something irresistible about the way in which this song simultaneously explodes and implodes. It’s fragile, and when Conley finally lets it all out, that release is jarring: It’s a glistening, moving, controlled cacophony, and yet, we feel better having gone through it than we would had the tension built without resolve.”
I don’t believe in pre-destination
You sleep in the bed just the way that you made it
Feeling sorry for yourself, out of control
You don’t feel wise, you just feel old
“I do love when the last chorus of ‘Always Gonna Happen’ happens, and you can feel it in your chest,” Conleys says of this song, adding, “There was a moment when I realized that this is the first time in my life where things have actually happened to me. My co-writer and I looked at each other and talked about the shit that has happened that we haven’t even talked about before. When you figure out the world isn’t what you thought it was, it makes you question a lot. ‘Always Gonna Happen’ plays into that; it’s about trusting my instincts to get away from situations and people to move forward in life.”
Stirring, sweetly beautiful, and achingly vulnerable, “Always Gonna Happen” proves a powerful standout in Conley’s growing catalog, and a cathartic close to this EP. It’s preceded by the dynamic and driving opener “Best I Can” – another easy singalong coursing with hot energy and visceral passion – and a softer middle track: The poignant, hauntingly tender “Oh New York,” a song so full of heartache and the bittersweet solemnity of final goodbyes:
Maybe by this time next year I won’t remember who you are
Maybe by this time you’ll be far enough where I won’t feel you
Thought it was over, damn you, falling all over myself
You’re keeping me honest, aren’t you?
I hate it
Oh, New York, take him away from me
I can’t move on when he’s breathing the air I’m breathing
It’s too intertwined
His story is mine and I’m so sick of talking about it
Oh, New York, take him away
I would recognize your voice all the way across the room
Should’ve stayed at home tonight
I knew that I was gonna see you
Thought I was better, damn you, I’ll never be back here again
You’re keeping your eyes down, coward
I hate it
For Conley, every successive release is a kind of reintroduction, and Best I Can succeeds at capturing where she is now and where she’s headed.
“I think everything you ever release should introduce some new part or element to you, so these songs are just more of that,” she shares, adding, “I always hope someone can identify and feel seen by anything I ever write… If you can feel like you’re not alone and maybe even find a little bit of levity in something you’re feeling, that’s enough for me.”
Life these days is more than a little chaotic, yet having music that reflects the chaos actually makes it all feel a little more bearable; these three songs and others like them give us the strength to endure, and perhaps even tolerate, all the turmoil and the bullsh** in our comings and goings. Slowly but surely, Savannah Conley is coming to be a voice of resilience and reassurance for her generation.
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Savannah Conley’s Best I Can EP with Atwood Magazine as the artist goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her latest release!
Stream: ‘Best I Can’ – Savannah Conley
:: Inside Best I Can ::
Best I Can
I “Best I Can” wrote with my friend Hank Compton when we were both very similar situations personally. Just relationships that we had had to put our hands up and say ‘okay, i’ve done literally all i can do’. The writing process happened really quickly, and he ended up producing most of the EP as well!
Oh New York
This song was written with my friend Erin McCarley who is one of my favorite people in the world. She brings such a calm to the room, and when we wrote this song, I was really sick of this situation I was in, and she was so patient with my working through it. We wrote this song quite a long time ago actually, and I was just waiting for the right place to put it.
Always Gonna Happen
Marshall Vore, whom I’ve been friends with for years, wrote this song with me. When we wrote it, we hadn’t seen each other in a long time, so we had a lot to catch up on. When we were done, we realized that this was one of the first times life had actually happened to us collectively. Friends had gone away, things had happened that we thought would happen (obviously) and some we never expected too.
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? © Sophia Matin Azad
:: Stream Savannah Conley ::