Fenne Lily delivers a cacophony of catharsis in easy-listening second album.
“BREACH”, the second studio album by Dorset-born singer-songwriter Fenne Lily, is a far-cry from the records I’m used to reviewing. There is no electrifying guitar riffs, no bouncy drum fills, no snarling male vocalist. No, Fenne Lily’s latest release is a rather more serene and relaxing record: Much more suitable for a Sunday morning than for a Saturday night. However, with a natural flow and no drag at all, the album was a subtle surprise for an indie rock addict.
Fenne Lily sounds like your contemporary Gen-Z, dreamy, detached vocalist. Yet, she also has a traditional Joni Mitchell-esque folk flare about her. She is the audial representation of what you imagine Beabadobee would sound like if she was wearing a cowboy hat and playing a small stage at an independence festival. This, although it may sound like one, is a compliment. After beginning gigging around her native Bristol and festival stages, “BREACH” is her second album, following her self-released debut “On Hold”. More mature and more perceptive of herself as well as the world around her, the record includes reference to German philosopher Froedrich Nietzsche, as well as her own personal failings. If that combination is not the epitome of maturity, I don’t know what is.
Recorded in self-imposed isolation, before sitting on your sofa 24/7 became enshrined in UK law, “BREACH” is about self-acceptance and embracing awkwardness. Beginning with an echoey, tremolo-shaken ode to modern feminism, the minute-and-a-half opening serves as an invitation in to Lily’s world of calmness. A bit like a disclaimer before walking into the hippy tent at a festival. As the record progresses, the aroma of incense grows stronger and the Bristolian’s soft voice becomes addictively hypnotic. With a dusting of violin behind every track, it is impossible not to fight the goosebumps which the record is bound to stimulate.
The album is clearly deeply personal, with numerous references to names and places. For example, “Berlin” (probably my favourite track on the album) is a beautiful and gentle narrative track. It even has a distorted guitar solo, which you most certainly would not expect. The album is also subtly clearly cleansing the 23 year old’s demons, which every 23 year old has, but very few speak about. The repetition of the line “It’s ok to be alone” seems to act as tragic but relieving catharsis for the Bristolian. Yet, these didaticisms are served up in a scruffily innocent way, through Lily’s soft vocals. This is a stark contrast from the IDLES or Sports Team way of getting their life learnings across.
Fenne Lily is, in many ways, a carbon copy of Laura Marling. Dyed blond hair, soft vocals, charming innocence. Given Marling’s recent success, comprising of a Mercury nomination and a five star review from NME, there cannot be any better praise for a British folk singer. But, as all musicians will attest to, being compared to another artist is a curse and a blessing. At only 23 years old, Fenne Lily is well on the way to making her own name a reference point in British music. *** 1/2