Unflinching honesty exposed bare, through the gorgeously soft, yet fiercely brave vocals of Ailsa Tully.
By a brooding bass line, we are drawn into the world of Ailsa Tully. Husky musings pry open latest single Edge as we learn an unexpected truth. On a hazy, glowing twilight of London’s riverbank, an evening full of laughter and life; painstaking anxiety is all that consumes her inner monologue.
As though the river flows calmly, Edge carries the listener along in delicate ripples and waves that never break. Despite the swell of emotive depth conveyed within the track, the music remains soothing and soft. Purposefully evoking a sense of numbness, against racing thoughts and a quickened heartbeat. When a mind cannot stop thinking, there eventually exists an odd state of tranquillity in the confusion, where one is simply lost amongst the chaos. As the brooding bass line plays on and the lull of the nightlife hums steadily in the background. Set against Ailsa’s stunning vocals, the music is reflective of that peculiar state where we feel everything, yet nothing. The surrounding world is meaningless, as our thoughts are all that exist.
The deliberate stark contrast between the music and lyrics is staggeringly beautiful. Creating a dreamlike, lullaby nightmare in Edge, that is nothing short of captivating. As we meander through the song, musical traction is picked up towards the end as the bass heavies and a drumbeat ensues, but an overall eerie sense of calm remains.
Vocally Ailsa heightens her range in parts, as peaks in her worries amplify in reflection of her lyrics. Edge is such a raw, honest, and brave expression of herself, that presents gorgeous vocal capabilities. Ensuring we behold Ailsa Tully as a hauntingly brilliant singer and songwriter.
A deep level of empathy and reflection exists within her music. As listeners, we too feel as though we are wandering the streets of London’s nightlife. Woefully lost amongst the ‘normality’, whilst consumed by our own thoughts and a desperate search for clarity. Yet somehow, we are swallowed by a soft heady calmness that could be our outer appearance to the world. I am completely in awe of the fascinating vocal delivery and backstory of Edge. I cannot wait to hear more from Ailsa Tully.
Many of you I’m sure will be wondering why a certain someone wasn’t included in my recent blog post ‘5 of my Favourite Gigs From 2019’. Well, this is because I felt she was worthy of a post dedicated just to her. Phoebe Green is an artist that I personally adore, but asides from my love for her, there is no denying that she has quickly become a rising icon these past 12 months. Absolutely storming 2019 in the process. With a signing to Chess Club Records, 2 new singles, and a string of live shows under her belt. Phoebe Green has certainly made a name for herself. I wanted to celebrate this hugely successful year of hers and explain why Phoebe has taken the crown for 2019 in my eyes, and I’m sure many others’ too.
I’d like to introduce Phoebe Green as an incredibly talented singer and songwriter. Phoebe writes her material herself, and her songs are a reflection of her own existence. This open window into her life, is something to be treasured. A very honest and brave lyricist, who does not hide behind a persona on stage. What you see when Phoebe performs is raw and real, and for me this makes her very special. From a young age, Phoebe has been passionate about music, and this is shown in her lyrics, that reflect as much colour and character as her name and personality. Originally hailing from the small seaside town of Lytham, Phoebe has since moved to follow her music aspirations and is now based in Manchester.
2019 has seen Phoebe take on supporting tours with the likes of Sundara Karma and Swim Deep, and most recently play an arena show with The Courteeners in Manchester. Earlier this year, Phoebe also had her very own headline tour in collaboration with ‘Get it Loud in Libraries’. An organisation that takes the quiet element out of libraries and instead fills them with music of all genres, in locations across the UK. As a result, this meant that Phoebe’s first tour was set to be so incredibly unique. Of course, I was first in the queue to get tickets to attend one of the shows, with the closest to me being Coventry. Asides from Coventry, Phoebe also played at libraries in Huddersfield and Liverpool this past summer. From what I saw; a smaller venue, with a dedicated crowd of fans, allowed Phoebe to shine exquisitely on stage. If I’m being honest, it wouldn’t even be fair to label the shows as being gigs, in my opinion the performances and atmosphere were far more intricate and intimate than that.
In Coventry Central Library, the stage was nestled in amongst the book shelves. It couldn’t have been anymore perfect, and it suited Phoebe so well. I don’t think I stopped beaming from the moment I arrived.
The first band to take to the stage were Porridge Radio. I’d never seen them before, but as soon as their set started I was captivated. Lead singer Dana has an incredible voice. I remember being completely fascinated by her sound and style. The songs they performed were gorgeous. Thanks to this gig I became a huge fan of Porridge Radio. I’ve recently written about them in more detail, congratulating them on their signing with Secretly Canadian Records.
Phoebe’s entrance to the stage was reserved, but beautiful. The room was so quiet you couldn’t hear a pin drop, and in that moment I felt for her. You could see that it wasn’t necessarily nervousness, but more a process of adaptation that was taking place. When you’re used to singing in front of a rowdy crowd that are fuelled on beer, to then be placed in front of people who are all patiently waiting in a library just to listen you. As Phoebe admitted herself, it was a change. Certainly not the environment she is used to performing in, as I’m sure would be the case for many other bands and artists.
As Phoebe began her set and the words of ‘Maniac’ began to echo around the room, you could see any hesitations she may have had melt away for her, as she relaxed into her surroundings. Needless to say, her performance was completely mesmerising. Phoebe has such a talent for song writing, and coupled with her incredibly beautiful vocals, this makes for a sublime pairing. A slight presence, that blooms in song. Phoebe Green is a flower bud, that bursts into life under the sunshine of the spotlight. She is wonderous to hear and behold. I’m not ashamed to say that Phoebe’s music has accompanied me through some of my loneliest, sleepless nights. Her songs have been there for me when I’ve cried, when I’ve overthought situations, and when I’ve simply needed something to listen to. So, to see Phoebe performing on stage, merely metres away from me, was very surreal. Phoebe’s set that evening was better than I could have imagined, and I felt so emotional during and after her performance. It was overwhelming in the best way possible.
To explain a little more about Phoebe’s music itself. Her self-released album 02:00am is gorgeous, and the lyrical content is haunting. It will reverberate with anyone who has ever been hurt or has longed for love. Vocally, most of her songs on this album are delicate to begin with, but the choruses are so powerful. Her songs transfix listeners with lyrics that speak of the frailty of the heart and mind. Encased in Phoebe’s soft vocals are subject matters that are certainly not delicate, but instead incredibly real, and piercing as a result of this. Phoebe sings of hurt, deceit, lust and love. For example, on the opening track of that night ‘Maniac’, Phoebe does not shy away from how weak we can be made to feel when blindingly in love with the wrong person. In contrast ‘Watercolour Envy’ speaks of a woman scorned, and shows beautifully, just how powerfully we can react when wronged by those we hold dearest, especially when infidelity is involved. The sheer raw emotion conveyed in Phoebe’s songs showcase her talents incredibly well. After listening to this album in full, it may come as a surprise that Phoebe had written these songs at just 16 years of age.
I know that Phoebe will openly admit she is embarrassed by the content of this album now, from having written the lyrics at a young age. However, despite her uncertainty, I’d like to assure her that for any listener, her songs will always be so relatable and poignant. Although, I can understand why she does feel detached from them. I know if I too were to look back on past relationships, and in turn old feelings that were inscribed within song lyrics, I’m sure I would also suffer embarrassment. Still it needs to be said, Phoebe as an outsider looking in, your lyrics are stunning. 02:00am should always be an album that is celebrated and loved.
Phoebe Green made her long-awaited return to music in March of this year. Prior to this, 02:00am was released in 2016. Her long hiatus from recording music has certainly helped her to grow, with ‘Dreaming Of’ clearly reflecting this. A stand-out, stand up for yourself ballad; ‘Dreaming Of’ lyricises a strong, independent woman who refuses to be put down, and aims to break free from her relationship and escape from a condescending partner. Phoebe projects so beautifully the betrayal that so many of us face, when we come to the realisation that we are in an unloving relationship, which we certainly do not deserve to be in. I’m so pleased to say that the passionate delivery of this new debut single gained Phoebe instant recognition. Clash Music and Pitchfork had both written stunning articles on Phoebe’s success by the end of April, and later in the year Phoebe had an interview with music heavyweights NME.
Phoebe’s new single came hand in hand with her signing to Chess Club Records, who clearly saw her talent and ran with it. Chess Club Records are a well-established name in the music industry, currently home to indie superstars Sundara Karma and Billie Marten. Chess Club also initially started the careers of giants Mumford & Sons, who put out their first EP with the label. This shows the sheer scale of what they see in Phoebe.
As I mentioned earlier, this year really has been the making of Phoebe Green. Being signed with such an expansive label as Chess Club has opened many doors for her, all of which she has gladly walked through. Many supporting and headline tours have kept her schedule busy, along with various festival appearances. Before finally closing the year playing an arena show with The Courteeners, which is certainly not an achievement to be taken lightly. However, Phoebe has remained modest throughout it all. Undoubtedly, one of the nicest people you could meet, Phoebe is so friendly and is genuinely such a kind-hearted person. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the pleasure of meeting her twice now. Initially following the gig in Coventry, I was over the moon to be able to speak to her, and more recently when she toured with Swim Deep at The Globe in Cardiff. Phoebe makes time for her fans and is so appreciative of everyone who speaks to her, and it’s these little sparks in her nature, that make her so wonderful. When I spoke to Phoebe after her set in Cardiff, she remembered when we spoke in Coventry. As a fan, that was so lovely and meant a lot to me. It proved to me that her fans obviously mean as much to her, as she does to us. Despite her clear musical talent, the lovely person that she is makes her all the more special.
I cannot wait for Phoebe to release her new album. As well as ‘Dreaming Of’ and her newest single ‘Easy Peeler’, which is equally as incredible and powerful in it’s emotional depth. I’ve been lucky enough to hear Phoebe perform two other new unreleased songs live. One I believe is called ‘A Song For Alex’ and the other is called ‘Double Vodka Lemonade’, which is my favourite. As soon as the album is released, it is without doubt that I will find myself writing about Phoebe again. But for now, I must congratulate Phoebe on the immense success that 2019 has brought her. It has been such a brilliant year for her, and she should be so proud of everything she has achieved.
I’m sure that 2020 will bring her even more happiness and success.
I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Thank you ever so much for taking the time to read my writing, and for appreciating the incredible bands and artists whom I write about. I wish you all lots of love, happiness and more wonderful music in 2020.