words by sammy maine
photo by hollie fernando
When talking about Fenne Lily, many point to her single “Top To Toe” and it’s impressive 22-million streams on Spotify. It’s a beautifully subdued song about the pain of first loves, with a hushed acoustic pluck providing the only backdrop and while it’s an extremely affecting introduction to the Bristol songwriter, Lily also wrote it when she was 16. Four years later, there’s an important shift in her output.
The vulnerability that made her so relatable is still a prominent part of her work but there’s also a powerful excursion in anger and fear. These aren’t just songs about being sad; instead, Lily expels her frustrations at the people and situations that made her feel that way in the first place.
The way Lily executes these stories is with a refined, gentle nuance. At the forefront of these narratives is Lily’s vocal delicacy, performed with such a robust vigour that makes it difficult to focus on much else. Often, it feels as though she’s barely breathing these words but it’s through this sort of fearless execution that On Hold finds its power. It’s a playful exercise in dynamics, carefully constructed to bring together the most compelling aspects of her tales.
Take “For A While,” where the instrumental falls back for Lily to ask, “speak the words I won’t” before bursting into an urgent, percussive swell. She’s unafraid to stand in tall when everything else falls away and in that sense, On Hold is more daring and more gutsy than some might initially assume.
This fearlessness in being vulnerable, in being both sad and angry at the same time, is a welcome reprise for those of us who might need a little nudge when it comes to reclaiming ourselves. Lily’s rhetoric extends far beyond just being relatable or empathetic – it gives us substantial access to our own sadness and anger which makes this much-anticipated debut a record that captures the messy, beautiful, chaotic discovery of the self. And while it might seem hopeless for a brief moment, Lily’s bold performance leaves us with a much-needed glimmer of optimism. If the crappy things in life can sound this beautiful, then it might all be okay in the end.
Ahead of its release tomorrow, we’ve been given the first play of album closer “Car Park (Overflow)” – listen to it in full below.
On Hold is self-released on April 6
Pre-order it here
Fenne Lily on tour:
6th Apr – Cardiff – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
7th Apr – Southampton – Heartbreakers
9th Apr – Brighton – Hope & Ruin
10th Apr – London – Moth Club
11th Apr – Manchester – Soup Kitchen
12th Apr – Leeds – Brudenell Social Club
13th Apr – Glasgow – Stereo
15th Apr – Dublin – The Sound House
16th Apr – Birmingham – The Cuban Embassy
17th Apr – Bristol – Thekla
19th Apr – Amsterdam – Paradiso
21st Apr – Nijmegen – Merleyn
22nd Apr – Utrecht – Tivoli (Club 9)
23rd Apr – Cologne – Studio 672
25th Apr – Hamburg – Nochtspeicher
26th Apr – Mainz – Capitol
27th Apr – Munich – Orangehouse
28th Apr – Magdeburg – Wohnzimmerkonzerte
29th Apr – Berlin – Privat Club
1st May – Gent – Nest
2nd May – Arlen – Les Aralunaires Festival