ANYWAY is available at:
January 16th, 2016
THIS next few days will not only see me featuring some of…
The best female artists around the country; it also affords me the opportunity to focus on artists I have reviewed previously. Coming up I have the likes of Eliza Shaddad and Hannah Boleyn- two acts I wrote about last year- but for today I concentrate on one of my favourite musicians from the last few years. Having reviewed Lydia Baylis a couple of times already; I am keen to interview her in the future and see what this year holds. Before I come to her- and where her music may take her- it gives me the chance to look at female-produced solo music in addition to the ‘dreamier’ side of music- finishing off with a bit about longevity in the music industry. Every time I review a female solo artist I am amazed by the differences I hear: Such a range of styles and vocals come through. Although I have reviewed some great male artists I tend to find their music is less ambitious and original compared to their female peers. I am not sure whether the girls of music set their sights wider- they are more daring when it comes to mixing genres- but they certainly have the most arresting and memorable music. In previous posts I have highlighted how hard it is to be wide-ranging as a solo artist: You are one musician alone and often have to make all the sounds yourself. Perhaps my assessment is a little short-sighted as it appears the bands are the ones lacking behind. Of course, a solo artist can have a band/producer behind them: Extra bodies that can add those necessary elements to ensure the music has a distinct and stunning edge. There are some male acts that push the boundaries and subvert expectations: The girls are still leading the charge and showing how it should be done. At the centre of this quality hurricane is the voice: So many tremendous sounds coming from the females of new music. From hard-slamming Punk vocals to sweet and mature Pop offerings: It seems like there is something for every listener taste out there. Whilst there is an insistent/trend to project power and soulfulness through vocals- a lot of female-driven music has an emphasis on power- I always love witnessing an artist who possesses a gorgeous and soothing voice. It may seem like an odd point to raise but a musician that can buckle the knees with the voice is a rare commodity. A lot of new musicians have defined and amazing voices: Those that can overwhelm the senses without resorting to histrionics are the most impressive (to me). I find when solo artists (not always but in a lot of cases) tend to write tender/gracious songs- those that have sensitivity to them- their voices come off rather effete and boring. Maybe clichéd and sickly-sweet; something leaves me a little cold. Lydia Baylis is a musician I have been following since her early days: I remember hearing Into the Water– released a couple of years ago- and being amazed by what was on offer. Such a sensuous and spine-tingling voice came through that it was hard to put my emotions into words. A stunning young act that has matured and developed; Baylis keeps getting stronger and more impressive with each release. It is not just that captivating voice that stuns but the depth of music and lyrics. An artist that is keen to bare her soul and inner-hurt; Baylis writes songs that speak to the wider audience- it is no coincident she has amassed a loyal fan-base. New music is quite a cruel and indiscriminate mistress: If you are not good enough to remain it will often chew you up and spit you out. I have seen a lot of great artists come through- with a bold debut song- only to take their foot off the gas. Maybe they take too much time between releases or show a discernible weakening across time. Whatever the reason, so many musicians have fallen at the first hurdle. It is a tough industry to crack; that is why I am always keen to follow artists that remain and keep on getting better.
Baylis is an artist that has been flying under-the-radar for a while and has a very loyal core of supporters. In a busy world of female singer-songwriters she certainly stands clear of her contemporaries. That luxuriant, heartfelt and chocolate-smooth vocal possesses such a tremulous quality- capable of reaching delirious heights and seducing without warning. Backing that voice are compositions that are atmospheric, dramatic and symphonic. When I was looking at Into the Water I mentioned how the haunting lyrics- a tragic heroine perhaps meeting an untimely end- was supported by sparse but hugely effective notes. Whilst the vocal was incredibly entrancing; the composition summoned such an immense force and black beauty. Not an artist to rest on her laurels; Baylis has kept her core in-tact and sounds even more confident now- ANYWAY is her latest (and perhaps greatest) effort. It will be interesting to see what this year holds in store for Baylis. Another tremendous British talent, I am sure there will be some great gigs coming up. Next month she plays London’s The Strongroom Bar: A chance to bring ANYWAY into the live arena. Whilst Baylis prefers to more intimate gig settings- she has played in coffee shops in the past- I can see her transcending to festivals in years to come. Venues and fans are starting to embrace voices that stray away from the belt-it-out-as-loud-as-you-can singer and those with subtlety and huge nuance. Baylis has a talent and sound that is perfect for the late-evening festival crowds. Whatever she has in mind, I cannot wait to see where 2016 takes her. One of the most spectacular and consistent musicians I have heard; she deserves a lot more support and critical attention. It is a shame so many promising musicians call it quits- whether affected by the demands of the game or lacking staying power- but those that keep on plugging and playing should be applauded. Music is a career that many are drawn to- with all its allure and promises- and many are disenchanted and given a reality-check down the line. Lydia Baylis has ensured her music is strong enough to keep her in the mind: In addition she has made sure she gets out there and wins over the crowds. I find a lot of musicians rely too much on social media and the Internet: The reality is you need to push and campaign hard to get your music heard.
Before I got down to reviewing ANYWAY, it was worth looking back at Baylis’ career to see how she has progressed. Into the Water was unveiled a couple of years ago: One of the earliest tracks from Baylis, it shows immense confidence and passion throughout. That vocal is incredible soothing and beautiful throughout. The lyrics take their inspiration from classic literature and poetry: A central subject has been dropped in a hole and is struggling against the tide. With our heroine documenting the scene she implores (the hero/heroine) to “Please keep coming up for air”. Intelligent and original lyrics- that are much more studied and considered than a lot of her peers’ work- you have a deep and fascinating song that provokes clear images and story. Inspired by Virginia Woolf- who killed herself by loading her pockets with stones; she walked into a lake- the song’s heroine suffers a similar fate. With the strains of the day and life on their shoulder- unable to escape the suffocation of reality- there is perhaps an inevitable conclusion. Baylis ensures the song never sounds too morbid or depressive: Her stunning voice and the exceptional composition gives the song a needed gracefulness and level head. For a song that looks at suicidality and an ill-fated historical figure- whose doubt is evaporated with one action- you would expect a song that weighed the listener down a little. Baylis not only ensures the song is highly memorable- keeping it in the mind for all the right reasons- but pens an intelligent and hugely effective set of lyrics. Superbly deploying her words and building the emotions- putting sympathy alongside haunting moments- you have a track that showed a remarkable young talent.
The same stunning production values that went into Into the Water– making it such a force of nature- have gone into ANYWAY. Before her current single, Baylis released Hold On (came out last year) that showed a step aside from Into the Water. More romantic and uplifted than Into the Water; here Baylis sounds more comforted and less anxious. Whilst struggling against some issues and realities; you have a song that gives our heroine a chance to look at love and relationships. From song-to-song the compositions change course and sound. Throughout Hold On you have a beat-driven backing that is quite tender and sparse- whilst managing to perfectly augment the foreground. It is here Baylis shows how enticing and sweet her voice can be: Packed with passion and emotion; you get plenty of heart and beauty resonating throughout.
Having reviewed Life Without You before, I am amazed how much diversity and versatility Baylis possesses. Life Without You looked at the breakdown of a relationship and the differences before and after: It seems like the break-up did not really affect our heroine. An original take on break-up reflections; Baylis shows wit and humour among more anxious and reflective moments. Whilst her voice remains compelling and familiar with each new track, Baylis has a wide subject matter and does not stick too heavily to any particular topic. From love dissolution investigation to a poet’s tragic end- via the joys of being in love and songs about self-investigation- Baylis has a wide array of inspirations and motives she channels into her music. Whilst a lot of her peers tend to focus too heavily on narrow themes- being jilted or heartbroken; purely in love and intoxicated- Baylis stretches her imagination and stands aside as one of music’s most original and impressive songwriters.
The biggest difference/development you can hear- from the earliest numbers to present-day- is the confidence and production sounds. With Ross O’Reilly helming ANYWAY– a producer she has worked with before- you get the most fully-realised and atmospheric track I have heard from Baylis. Having such a bond and friendship with O’Reilly; that connection and understanding has worked wonders in this track: You get production valued that bring everything to life and mix each element- vocals, instruments etc. – perfectly together. Baylis sounds more comfortable and assured as she has at any other stage: A singer that grows in ability and intuition by the year, her voice is at its peak her. The same could be said for the songwriting which takes in new concerns and demonstrated that established and stunning lyrical ability. This bodes well for the coming year which promises new music: Whether an E.P. or album will be produced I am not sure. Given her rate of progression and the consistency she shows- the passion she has for music too- any future release will be met with huge anticipation.
It has been a little while since last I reviewed Lydia Baylis. For that reason I was thrilled ANYWAY has been dropped into the ether. Hooking-up with producer Ross O’Reilly- the two have a great history and connection- I was thrilled to hear what the results were. The opening notes of ANYWAY sees tripping beats and a strange sensuality welcome things in. Slight crackle and pause leads to our heroine who comes in with an emotive and stunning vocal. The early words- “Seems to me that you didn’t know that I didn’t care”- get me curious and fascinated. It seems the hero has been hiding her/a subject beneath the stairs. At this early juncture I am thinking about romance and deceit within a relationship. Perhaps our heroine’s boy has been lying and leading a double life. Maybe a cheater and no-good, our heroine is wise to his foolishness. That opening line- that looks at not caring given a situation- sees some aloofness and spiked tongue. There is clear friction and fracturing within the relationship: Whatever has happened between them has taken its toll and the song seems to document a particularly fraught realisation. Whilst our heroine burns all his letters my mind starts to picture and wonder. That idea of letters being exchanges between lovers- seems a charming anachronism in the modern age- has its heart in fiction and older times. A traditional love story- one that has turned sour no less- that has hit the rocks; you are invested in this song and following our heroine’s plight. Baylis’ voice has such a purity and beauty to it before. Sounding more unique and transcendent than ever before; it is a soul-bearing tone that gets inside the heart and causes it to miss a beat. Backed by a stunning production and atmospheric sound- everything is crisp and clear; the sparse back-beat creates edge and tension- and the song begins with huge promise and punch. Whilst there has been dishonesty and break-up, our heroine is not completely emotionless and happy: Burning letters and the past makes her hurt and feels immense pain. That sense of loss and anger comes through in a voice that drips with soul and heartache. Projecting her words with pace and consideration, it gives the listener a chance to get hooked into the song and imagine the scenes unfolding. Whilst there is pain and sadness- burning old letters and purging the bond- it has to be done regardless. In past songs, Baylis has looked at a variety of subjects- tragic heroines and the lack of emotion following break-ups- but here she shows a new maturity and development.
The composition is a different stroke for Baylis: Taking in new elements and ideas; it is a very modern and of-the-moment sound. In past tracks, Baylis has looked at the heartaches of break-up: Never has she sounded as overtly affected and haunted as she does here. When our heroine returns home and revisits past scenes, she hates the people and sights- because not one “was you”. That central refrain- the pain arising from burning love letters- shows a tender soul that has lost a big chunk. Damaged and terrorised by the cessation of a once-glorious bond; you cannot help but empathise for Baylis and what she is going through. Never allowing her voice to be overwhelmed and insincere she shows huge strength and resolve in spite of the sorrow she feels. A lot of singers would back such a song with needless sound and weight: On ANYWAY you have a composition that perfectly supports the vocal whilst projecting its own story in the process. Those beats crackle and sparkle in the back; there are aching strings and whooshing electronics. All slung together and you have a song that is hard to ignore and refute. Powerful and endlessly dramatic, Baylis seems at the peak of her powers. As the song develops and progresses, our heroine poses a few questions. Asking whether her man has made her strong enough to cope- tough enough and able to ride this storm- he also said how big and bad the world is. Reflecting and recalling the past- whether her former sweetheart did all he could to fight- you start to wonder why the relationship broke up. Clearly there are residual feeling and questions from our heroine: Perhaps there was not mutuality behind the decision; the lovers may have had different ideals. Whether the boy was cheating and in the wrong- keeping a dirty little secret stashed away- or if there were other reasons, you start to dig and look inside the lyrics. Baylis’ voice is constantly stunning and clear throughout- perhaps her most assured and memorable vocal to date- inside a song that is perhaps her most heartbroken and personal statement yet. Whilst her previous songs have hinted at loss and relationship implosion; none have dealt with the subject with such raw emotion and effectiveness. The final notes see Baylis lost in her thought and surrendering to the realities of the situation. Not willing to let go completely and forget everything that has happened; you get a real sense of a young woman struggle to contain her sadness and anger. In every note and second you are affected by how ANYWAY affects you. Whilst a very personal and meaningful song (to Baylis) every listener can relate to the words being poured forth. With a universal heart and core, ANYWAY is a song that will be a live favourite and standout for Baylis’ fans.
I have been following Lydia Baylis for years now and was excited to see ANYWAY arrive. It appears our heroine has no desires to slow down and relax: If social media scuttlebutt is to believed; 2016 will be one of the busiest and most productive yet. In the past, Baylis has shown what a range and diversity she has at her disposal. No two songs sound alike and the listener is always treated to something new and original. Becoming stronger and more confident with every release there is no telling just how far the young artist could go. Ross O’Reilly helms a track that has terrific production values and brings every detail and thought to life. Allowing the vocal to be clear and concise up-top; you have a song where every note and element fuses together perfectly. Each aspect is mixed together to ensure ANYWAY hits you upon the very first listen: You are compelled to keep coming back to the song and let it work wonders. Baylis wrote the song with O’Reilly- one suspects most of the lyrics are Baylis’; most of the composition O’Reilly’s- and this combination results in a wonderful track that should be a staple among radio stations around the country. I know a lot of stations that would love to have ANYWAY on their playlists so Baylis should be very proud. One of the strongest and most compelling tracks I have heard this year- I know it is a young year but I have heard a lot of music- I cannot wait to see how she progresses as the year continues. It would be great to see Baylis and O’Reilly work together more closely as they have a great simpatico that leads to stunning music. Baylis herself seems to have found fresh inspiration and subject- perhaps reflecting on a relationship that she was sad to lose. That dependable and arresting voice seems ever more transcendent and beautiful than ever: A head-spinning blend of power, emotion and sweetness; truly one of the most special singers this country has produced. If you have not heard Lydia Baylis and what she has to offer, you are missing out on one of music’s finest artists.
It is great to feature Lydia Baylis again on these pages. I love investigating brand-new musicians but revisiting acts/bands always gives me pleasure and inspiration. There are so few long-lasting acts in the underground- so many bands and solo artists call it quits early- it is impressive and important we pay tribute to those who keep on burning. Baylis is one of those artists who has a very distinct sound and a very clear future ahead. Whilst most of her touring/gigs have been in smaller venues I can see the young star going onto to huge things. Her music has huge emotions and atmospheres: Perfect for the festival crowds that want to unite in a musical moment of passion and captivation. Not a musician that writes shallow and easy songs- hook-laden and basic choruses- Baylis has an intelligence, depth and knowledge few of her peers have. When I reviewed her a while back- looking at Life Without You– I was impressed by her background and upbringing. Her father served during The Falklands War and experienced hardship and horror during the campaign. After coming back to England, it was a few years later that Baylis was born- in the Hampshire town of Aldershot. Within the environs of Surrey and Hampshire, Baylis was only 2-years-old when the family relocated to Germany. In fact, Baylis’ early life was a little nomadic and born of frequent relocation. Having spent time in Russia, Lydia returned to England where she studied (until the age of 18, when she left school). It was not too long until Lydia was on the move once more, and spent time in New York: she was lucky enough to perform in theatre productions; whilst there she fell in love with the city and has made frequent trips back there. The second-born Baylis child eventually went on to study history at Christchurch College, Oxford (I studied history up in Cambridge, so can appreciate her fascination with it). That itinerant background ad prestigious education has moulded a young woman with a huge knowledge of music, literature and poetry: These are all combined and mixed into songs that take the breath away. I hear whisperings- from her social media pages- there is more music mooted for 2016. I cannot wait to see what comes next- whether an E.P. or album is forecast- as Baylis is one of the most stunning musicians working at the moment.
Every song she produces shows new topics and sides: A restless and hard-to-pin-down artist; it is amazing how much breadth and depth she has. In every track you are entranced by that voice: A startling instrument that deserves a lot of attention and focus. Whether our heroine will be playing a lot of gigs this year- or concentrating on new music- it is not clear. ANYWAY is a track that shows where Baylis is in 2016: A consistent and original talent the music world should embrace and encourage. Before wrapping things up here, I wanted to circle back- perhaps with greater relevance- to the points about female musicians and longevity- in addition to the importance of beauty in music. Over the coming weeks- and the last couple of weeks past- I get the chance to revisit some wonderful musicians; take in new talent and see what 2016 music is coming up with. Among the female musicians I have reviewed lately- from Dolores Haze to Jasmine Branca- you get so much variation and difference. Whether it is something in the composition or vocal- maybe the lyrics they produce- I am amazed by how many unique and wonderful artists are coming through. The boys are doing a good job but for my money the girls are so far ahead right now. It may take ages to get to the bottom of the truth- why they are so far ahead- but I am just pleased to see so much great talent emerge. The mainstream media- and blogs focusing on new music for that matter- still concentrate too heavily on bands. I think the male-driven band market gets too much focus and write-up- there should be more commitment to female solo artists- and that is shifting focus from the best music has to offer. Lydia Baylis is one of those talents that keeps growing and developing as time elapses. A stunning voice and wonderful musician; few artists are as compelling and original. So few musicians stand the test of time- or struggle to meet music’s rigorous demands- so it is always impressive finding a talent that last through the years. Baylis is a stand-out name for a number of different reasons. Not only are her lyrics diverse and fresh- she sounds effortless whatever she writes about- but the voice behind them sounds utterly entrancing. Baylis is natural and effortless when singing about tragic poets or the transgressions of love: Everything she touches leaves impressions in the mind and soul. ANYWAY is a song that shows an evolution from a young artist that has a big future ahead. It is always unwise making big proclamations: Baylis is a musician you just know will rule the airwaves very soon. If you are looking for a solid investment and a beautiful artist with an unstoppable talent- Lydia Baylis is someone you should spend some time with. Whilst she has toured coffee shops and smaller venues, I can see her going onto big stadium gigs and summer-time festivals. In a music world that sees a lot of its participants struggle and fall, it is great to see a musician that shows no sign of slowing down. Make sure you check out Lydia Baylis and ANYWAY: A wonderful young woman…
THAT is a household name of the future.
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