words by trevor elkin
photo by jacob colon
Last September we introduced you to the bedroom musings of Alyssa Thomas; like tiny diamonds in the snow, her Bandcamp demos recorded under the name Fairy Godmother barely stood out, but we were so glad we stopped to take a closer look. Teaming up with Fox Food Records and a number of other friends, those original songs and some new ones have now been reshaped and sprinkled with some magic for Fairy Godmother’s debut EP release, Attic Space.
Without losing their straightforward, homemade feel, the EP brings out the hidden shine in Thomas’ songwriting that was always there, waiting for some dedicated time and development. “I’ve been sitting on these songs for a while and I feel like I just wanted to clear my head and these songs were the last things to go”, she says, adding that the process of recording the EP put those ideas to rest and prompted a new surge of creativity.
The cautious, awakening mood of “Intro” gradually evolves into confidence as the EP progresses. For Thomas, these songs track the trepidation of her move from Bloomington Indiana to Philadelphia, turning 21 and all the hardy lessons of self-discovery that come with physical and emotional travel. “When I listen to it, the person at the beginning is really different from the person at the end. It feels like a ride. I don’t know, and then there’s some stuff in there that I just needed to work out. It’s like therapy.”
That said, Fairy Godmother has the same air of maturity and wisdom as the moniker implies. Her melodies are simple, but also engaging and disarming, bringing us closer to the vision for each song. Glitterball synths throw dancing beams on “Tell On Me”, but their flickering shadows hide secrets and stories. “God Damn” has a guitar/vocal chorus hook that Exile In Guyville overlooked, and which you will find creeping back into the quieter moments of your day. On “Maybe” Thomas is helped out by her roomies who lend a hand on drums (Alexander Giannascoli) and bass (John Heywood). The (Sandy) Alex G members’ unhurried vibes complement Thomas’ cynical drawl with the kind of lofi frontier Country music you’d hear in a town with no name.
It’s the directness of the last two tracks, however, that makes Attic Space wrap tightly around your feelings. “Berwyn”, a song about Thomas’ late father, is featherlight in its execution but it hits unexpectedly hard: “I said some things I did not mean and I let you down / I’m reaching out for you but there’s nothing left to touch.” It’s relatable and unforgettable songwriting. The poignant “Pretty” was the first Fairy Godmother track we heard, so it’s closing position on this EP feels odd, but logical according to Thomas’ narrative: “I’m not the type of person who can write amazing songs about topics that don’t necessarily pertain to them; everything is so personal and I just do my best to express it”. That intent is heard in the closing breaths of “Pretty” – completely exposed and vulnerable.
While this is still proudly a DIY venture, Fairy Godmother makes the most of her internal, emotional world to bring greater depth and a sense of distance travelled to her songs. Listen to it in full below.
‘Attic Space’ is out today, via Fox Food Records
Order it here