In her song “This Time Around,” singer/songwriter Brielle Brown asks for us to “Have mercy on my eyes / They didn’t know how to see you / Have mercy on my skin / Oh it has touched and it has sinned,” with her words channeling much of the emotional context created by the instrumental backdrop in a manner I can only refer to as ghostly. Her relationship with the music is so intimate and unbreakable, and yet her verses are reflective of a vulnerability – an exposed plea just to be nurtured and better understood – that the contrast leaves listeners breathless inside of the track’s very first stanza. It’s hard to believe this is a cut off of her debut EP The Well, and not an excerpt from a retrospective collection of greatest hits instead.
There’s a brooding tone to every element of the music here, starting of course with the voice Brown offers us from one song to the next. She aches with so much unbound vitality, even in moments of conflicted catharsis (“She’s Come to Sing,” “Concrete Stars”), and while there’s a sense of personal introspection hanging over much of the lyricism she affords this material, there’s scarcely a moment in which her narratives sound even remotely inaccessible. This is very much a piece that lends insight on her personality to the audience, but make no mistake about it; hers is a songwriting style that could be considered as commentarial as it is insular, and for all of the best reasons imaginable.
The harmonies we’re met with in “Let the Water,” the title track, and “Skylark’s Tune” might be some of the most compelling I’ve heard from any artist, mainstream or indie the same, in all of 2021, and they’re partly as communicative as they are because they refuse to live within the boundaries set forth by genre puritans both in 2021 and in all the years before. This is a young songstress who doesn’t care what we call her music; only that we’re listening to the tangible emotional output each strand of verses seems to create, no matter the tempo or the melodies they’re being presented to us beside. That’s downright profound, and it’s something some of her older contemporaries could stand to learn something from.
A stunning concept EP that doesn’t live inside of its own ambitions too much, Brielle Brown’s The Well is a picture of ethereal femininity and daring millennial songcraft that couldn’t be arriving for a more appropriate summer than the one ahead of us this year.
With so much talk about our changing music industry, it’s nice to come across a player who isn’t getting hung up in the exaggerated bloating a lot her rivals have been forging an entire sound out of lately, and from the looks of what she’s producing at such an early stage of the game, I would have to assume that we’re going to be hearing a lot more magic like The Well as the future starts to unfold.
Videos courtesy Gabriela Sibilska. Photography courtesy Maria Wurtz.