ALBUM REVIEW: Fenne Lily – ‘On Hold’

Singer-songwriter Fenne Lily has been slowly making a name for herself, spreading her melancholy tunes across various venues these past two years as support for artists such as Dodie, Charlie Cunningham and Marlon Williams with only a sample of her music in tow. So it’s been longtime coming for the Bristol-based artist to release a full LP.

Fenne Lily’s debut album On Hold engulfs you in sweet melancholy feelings of despair, but also an odd hopefulness with Lily’s ethereal voice and lyrics really grabbing at those heartstrings.

The record includes many of the songs and singles that have been previously released such as ‘Three Oh Nine,’ ‘Top to Toe’ and ‘What’s Good.’ However, the album also includes plenty of beautiful new tracks such as ‘Car Park’ and ‘More Than You Know.’

One thing that’s evident from the get go, is that this record will make you feel things. Especially sadness. There’s no way around it. Still, the album starts off with ‘Car Park’ – which just musically might be the only track that doesn’t sound too depressingly somber. Because following this track are songs ‘Three Oh Nine’ and ‘What’s Good’ where the emotional lyrics will make you want to stare into the void remembering past relationships.

Following suit, the opening notes and lyrics in ‘The Hand You Deal’ give an initial impression that this song too, may be rather wistful. But it’s the chorus that seems to change things. It feels like Lily is trying to convey a quiet fury as well as defiance through her lyrics.

This hidden frustration but also vulnerability is also displayed in ‘Bud.’ It’s the final line of “But I know I’ll never do for you” and how Lily’s voice seems to give in to that lyric that probably makes this one of the saddest songs on the album, and might even make you cry a little.

But not all the songs are sad. During her live performances, Lily has occasionally brought up the story of how she used to dress up her brother – something many a older sister can relate to – as well as mentioned how her brother is one of the only men in her life to not have disappointed her. So it just seems fitting that Lily has penned a sweet ode to her sibling, called ‘Brother.’ With a chorus of “Cause you’re my brother/ I’ve known you from before/ Before we both were born,” we feel that intimacy of sibling affection which finally makes one smile. Fun fact: The song was recorded with and produced by PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish.

Also, title track ‘On Hold‘ is a tribute to another important person in her life, her best friend Felix – and stands resolutely as one of the two more positive songs on the LP.

Lily’s voice displays certain wavers within it, especially audible in the end track ‘Car Park (Overflow)’ – an acoustic version of her opening track ‘Car Park.’ To use an acoustic track as her closing statement to the album was a great move, as it proves that the simplicity of a mesmerising voice and the use of minimal instruments can still have huge impact.

It’s a lovely debut album; all the songs fit together neatly, making the entire thing a really beautiful and well rounded LP, that displays Fenne Lily’s exquisite gift for singing of the personal – a vital trope that centres her writing and builds a profound connection with its listener. A striking debut of lasting impression.

Fenne Lily’s debut album, ‘On Hold,’ will be released on 6th April 2018 – available on various formats which can be pre-ordered here.

Fenne Lily’s UK tour dates are as follows:

6th Apr – 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

Find Fenne Lily on Facebook and Twitter.

Marla Geesing
Music writer with a love for honest lyrics – and may have a serious concert addiction. Based in Germany.

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