Michelle O Faith
Birthday Blues is available at:
12th September, 2016
Cinematic Pop; Soul; R&B
I am pretty pleased Michelle O Faith has come to my attention…
as it gives me the chance to explore a number of different themes: the finest female singer-songwriters emerging; bold and beautiful personalities emerging right now; artists that have the ammunition and attitude to succeed and remain in music – a little bit about cinematic, hard-hitting compositions too. I have focused on the boys a lot over the last couple of weeks – in the form of interviews and reviews – and, whilst it has been great discovering new talent, I have neglected the female artists emerging and their music. I always find something different with female artists (as opposed to the guys): it might be the general quality of originality – I just get left with a stronger aftertaste and a bigger smile. That might be an over-generalisation, but when it comes to the young singer-songwriters, the girls are edging ahead of their male peers. Neither sexist (reverse-sexist, technically) nor discriminatory: it is a point that warrants greater discussion. There is still an imbalance in the music industry which is seeing many female artists have to work harder (than men) to gain attention and respect – there is a need for progressiveness and equal opportunities. As is being proved by the raft of fine talent breaking through the underground: the girls are a lot more agile, talented and colourful than the guys. You can argue against that assumption, but the evidence is there to back me up. Don’t get me wrong: I love the guys and the various genres, wonderful acts and future-legends that are playing with aplomb. One thing I find is there are too many musicians – the boys in this case – that stick to the same themes and sounds (love and relationships through Pop and Soul) that are not distinguishing themselves and playing too closely to their contemporaries. If you look at the girls – there are quite a few equally culpable – a lot more bombast, richness and variegation can be found.
This is true of Michelle O Faith who not only subsumes expectations of a young musician – someone who will solely focus on love in narrow terms – but has the adventurousness, confidence and songwriting finesse of the idols who have inspired her. Before I carry on this topic, and invariably raise a few more, I shall let Michelle introduce herself (from her Facebook bio.):
“I am Michelle O Faith, a singer, songwriter, composer and producer from South London. In September of 2013, I signed a publishing deal with Peer UK in a joint venture.
I graduated 2013 with BA Music (Hons) from The University of Southampton and I am currently studying for Masters Music, Composition at The University of Leeds
Welcome to my Facebook music page. Have a little gander, and if you like what you see/hear then do feel free to Like, Comment, Share and..most importantly..HIT UP YOUR FRIENDS. (I.e. get them to hit that Like button, also).
Thank you for joining me on my journey… No bio section would be complete without at least one slightly pretentious comment.
There is not just one artist but a long time favourite / greatest inspiration and perhaps the single greatest entertainer to have ever lived, Mr Michael Jackson. Janet. Mariah. Whitney. Gaga. Britney. Destiny’s Child. BEYONCE. Christina. Yadi (Google her – she’s gonna be BIG). Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins. Stargate. Dr Luke. Max Martin. Ester Dean. Teddy Riley. Jermaine Dupri. Ellie Goulding. Florence & the Machine. Florrie. Sky Ferreira. Jessie J. The Script, Coldplay. Classical composers – (a LOT of them inc., Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, Tschaicokvsky, Bach, Debussy, Rachmaninov.
Life. Beautiful Boys. Space. Loneliness. Dark souls. The dark part of my soul. God. Blue eyes. Brown eyes. People. What makes people tick. Relationships. Tears. Laughter, (though not so much). Fallouts. My mum, (whom I LIVE for). X”
You can tell from the biography alone that O Faith is someone that vibes from the legends of old but has a contemporary edge. Admiring of Classic composers and Pop queens; the chart-friendly acts of the moment and the most impressive musicians of days gone by – you get a little bit of everything with her music. What impresses me most is how unique she sounds. Never beholden to her favourite musician or lazily copycatting them – like so many new artists do – her lyrical template and musical palette is very much her own creation. Michelle O Faith is a singer that captures you with her sensual, passionate voice and braces you with her powerful delivery and soulful tones. Chocolate-smooth at once; transforming into something honeyed and alluring – mutating into sassy, brassed tones when the music calls for it. A South London girl born and bred: you can hear that accent come out; she never distils it or Americanises her vowels/lyrics. You know she is going to go far and establish herself as a great of the future. One (other) thing that seduces me with regards O Faith is the personality and accessibility that radiates from her. Whether promoting her music or reaching out to her fans: that warmth and love come through; the desire to touch everyone and bring them into her world. Just looking through her social media pages and you get a constant stream of uplift and special D.N.A. She is not someone that deals in soundbites and clichéd statements: sweeping, un-distilled purity and affection emerge. This is not cynical or designed to hook people in – this is who Michelle O Faith is. I mention this point – regarding vivacious personalities – because we are seeing few genuine idols come into music. Maybe the pressure and fatigue of music blunt the senses, which raises its own concerns. I am not suggesting every new musician needs to jump off the page and attack the senses with smiles and effusive videos. Too many bands tend to (see their members) blend into one another and lack the same edge and personality you used to get in the past – too cagey and cautious, perhaps. The same can be said of solo musicians: many of whom are far too guarded and stilted to get inside the heart. That can never be said of O Faith whose beauty and humanity defines who she is. Not only incredibly striking and beautiful: she is someone who has a deep love of her fans and the music she is making. It is easier bonding with a musician, and the songs themselves, if you feel a genuine connection to them. Michelle O Faith has accrued a legion of fans (in part) because of her attitude to fans and the need to resonate with people. Of course, the music itself has done some shouting and should not be overlooked.
Birthday Blues, in addition to her debut E.P., is a self-written, self-produced track that not only emphasises a keen talent and sensational voice – someone who can put her soul and innermost feelings onto the page. She may rank artists like Beyoncé as role models but I feel O Faith is a superior songwriter and talent – not someone who requires a brigade of producers, tastemakers and scribes to create her music. Birthday Blues collates the sounds and divergence of London and elements of U.S. artists such as Lana Del Rey. The exhaust-fire beats and quasi-symphonic rushes seem to, whilst perhaps not intended, as emotional markers and the sounds of the streets. You get a touch of cosmopolitan rush and the diversity of the capital: a perfect blend of colour and black-and-white – all you could possibly ask for. I have been longing to find a homegrown musician that incorporates many of Lana Del Rey’s qualities. Of course, the U.S. singer is not the vanguard and sole example of cinematic strings and huge sounds in Pop. There are a number of like-minded acts that go beyond the familiar and put proper grit and excitement into the compositions. One imagines – when hearing Birthday Blues – an excursion down a desert road or a romantic waltz through the Hollywood Hills. Not only do you get bold and heart-pounding cocktail measures but spine-tingling, blood-rushing romanticism and something quite alluring. Not only are O Faith’s influences key – with regards this heady blend of sounds – but the extension of her personality. She does not do anything by halves and puts her heart and mind into everything. That fortitude and dedication will pay dividends and all highlighted in Birthday Blues – a teasing and tasty cut from her forthcoming E.P.
Birthday Blues is the latest cut from Michelle O Faith but she is a musician that has an illustrious and spectacular last year – creating some fantastic music along the way. Sleep Through Fire was released a year ago but is a song I return to. O Faith’s sultry and revealing vocal and a composition that blends together classic Pop, Trip-Hop and Soul. The accentuation and delivery in unique: words are stuttered and stretched; rushed and slowed to ensure every line is given maximum emotional consideration. vulnerable lyrics sees the heroine walk through fire and encounter struggles. It seems like two lovers and being separated by life or different ideals. Wondering whether (they both) will reclaim their bond in time to come: questions are posed and the future seems uncertain. Beats are kept fresh and sparse but add distinct heartbeat and urgency to the track. In a lot of ways (the song) has elements of Pop artists like Lady Gaga and Rhianna – something that could easily fit into the mainstream and gain huge international appeal. If anything, I find Sleep Through Fire deeper and more compelling than a lot of U.S. chart fare. O Faith is a commanding vocal whose pure tones and distinct passion makes the song a cut above her peers. Looking back, No Romance in China (the E.P. where Sleep Through Fire sits) is a collection that emphasises a huge talent. White Lies Red Wine differs from Sleep Through Fire and offers another side through. Smokier and tenderer than its stablemate: the song boasts hummed backing vocals and a beautiful lead performance – without instrumentation; left there to seduce and amaze.
Michelle O Faith is a singer that can hold attention and focus without processing and huge compositions. The song sees agile beats come to play, but by and large, it is a song that exists on a solid and entrancing vocal turn. Again, the way the lyrics are twisted and turned makes the song what it is. Never plainly sung or obvious: the delivery is constantly surprising, mobile and nuanced. The song looks at the heroine a relationship that had its problems and seems to be on the rocks (“Never meant to be your victim”). Drowning in the lover’s lies (and red wine that is dulling the pain); it is a song whose choral, ethereal backing adds poignancy and heartache. Subtle strings emerge in the background and give it more chill and beauty. Despite the hurt, there is a sense of catchiness and memorability about the song – a number that could be sung by live crowds and get big reception. If I was to offer any review between No Romance in China and Birthday Blues, that would be the confidence and composition changes. The performance (on Birthday Blues) is the finest yet and O Faith is at her very peak. Not only does she bring more shades, sides and attack to the voice but she sounds more complete, solid and rounded as a performer. Existing at its side is the composition which heightens that blend of cinematic and atmospheric and augments the beats and compositional elements. The vocal is still queen but Birthday Blues is a busy and intoxicating song that gets into the head and elicits instant response. This leap and evolution will go into the sophomore E.P. and is the defiant sound of a young woman more comfortable than ever and showing huge ambition. She – on Birthday Blues – edges away from stars like Rhianna and the mainstream charts to show more of her own voice and, if anything, inject elements of Pop and Soul greats. She has mentioned singers like Michael Jackson – an idol that has moulded her sound and direction – and more of his inflections, tics and components can be found in the song.
A recent B.B.C. article wondered whether songs could ever be poetry – in response to Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize. In terms of modern music, that would be a debate with no easy answer. There are songs that have poetic elements but there is nobody like Dylan – nobody since him has shown that intelligence, genius and huge influence. Maybe the changing nature of music and passing of time has meant there are fewer writers like him. Despite nobody eclipsing Dylan: that is not to say modern writers cannot amaze and create something poetic. Michelle O Faith, in her previous songs, has addressed love and life, but here, she looks at herself and mortality – achieving dreams and something unique. In terms of the lyrics and themes one hears: there is definite poetry and stunning prose; an artist that addresses something quite affecting and sad but does so in a beautiful way – helped by the wonderful composition. Birthday Blues is a song that gets underway instantly. “Half a girl” is lying on the kitchen floor: she is only half the woman she wants to be. Right from the very start, there is that blend of raw and profound. The imagine of the heroine sprawled on the kitchen floor – perhaps inebriated or just contemplating life whilst staring at the ceiling – you can hear the emotion and heavy heart come out. Backed by tripping, sprite strings – sounding like classical strings with some bass – there is a rumble of percussion but things are kept relatively light in the early moments. Letting her voice dance and sway in the breeze – the way she pronounces and delivers the lines is still unlike anyone else – and O Faith addresses twenty-one and that milestone age – a year for death and ill fate to some; a young woman feeling very old. Many would think someone that young has nothing to worry about but the heroine is feeling strain and perhaps looking back at life. Whether feeling incomplete, empty and not as far along as she hoped – someone who wants love, success and direction but is not getting it.
I feel Birthday Blues is Michelle O Faith’s acknowledgment time is passing but growing older is not something to be celebrated. The birthday songs and jubilant chorusing is almost dagger-like in her heart. Maybe precious relationships and a hard year have meant the birthday is an unwelcome trespasser. Unlike her peers and colleagues: Michelle O Faith is a singer and writer that does not copy the crowd and fit into any preconceived moulds. Her words are more thought-provoking, image-heavy and emotive than most; the singing more human, cutting and emotive than anyone out there. I use words like ‘emotive’ and ‘emotional’ yet Birthday Blues is not a completely sombre and exhausted song. The point behind it is to talk about ageing and personal growth and make others think deeply. One gets drawn into a rather hypnotic combination of vocals and composition – the song motivates you to get involved and assess it whilst giving it repeated plays. As things continue, O Faith is sleeping with the enemy and finding it hard to dream. Whether the nemesis is a human being or just a general way of life, one is not instantly sure. I get the impression the heroine is trying to find real connection and a lover but is more concerned with her place in life and where she is. Maybe the past year has been a hard one and she has overcome obstacles. As a musician, maybe she is not as far ahead as she wants or is making big dreams – all of this comes to fruition in the notes and revealing vocal. “Tell them to keep the candles and cake this time” as O Faith lies with regret and is awash with doubts. It is a vivid song and you see yourself sat alongside her; by the bed and watching a woman wrestling with turmoil and contradictions. Whilst successful and inspiring others: one feels she wants a lot more and there are hidden pains. Perhaps friends and ex-loves have let her down and, from a creative perspective, she has been hindered or maybe not hit the big leagues – that is all sure to change in coming years. The chorus comes back around and one finds themselves half-singing and nodding to it. Birthday Blues has that backing beat and mixes edginess and lush without blunting either element. The music is beautiful and aching but definitely has spike and bite to it. Michelle O Faith lets her voice swim and dive; ensure the words get into the heart and the listener is hooked.
By the final seconds, the voice is echoed and repeated – wordless, energised but with a hint of weariness. Repeating that idea of feeling haunted, affected and weighed down by the passing birthdays – your heart goes out to the heroine and what she has to endure. Birthday Blues is a deep and personal song but one we can all connect with. Every time a birthday arrives; one feels the need to look back and see if we have achieved anything (that year) but look forward – hoping for better things and whether we are past our best days. It may sound heavy and defeatist but it is a fascinating topic I have not seen brought up in music before. As a young woman; O Faith might not have to worry about such concerns, but in a way, she does. No matter how old we are, there is always going to be a sense of regret and falling short of our ideals. Birthday Blues is another terrific and stunning song from a musician and singer that continues to grow and expand her sound. More memorable and compelling than anything she has created before: the lead from an E.P. that is sure to gain a lot of attention and huge affection from fans. There are still touches of her Pop idols but there is nobody like Michelle O Faith. She is a very special singer and artist that distinguishes herself from her contemporaries and has created a hugely impressive song.
A lot of ‘self’ goes into Birthday Blues and an author putting her fears and doubts into the music. O Faith has been sitting on the song for month but is excited to get it out there. The delay has not only built momentum and eagerness but coincides with her E.P. release – not long until that is revealed to the world. In terms of the themes and stories that will be revealed in the E.P., one’s guess is as good as mine. I know there will be personalisation and mature revelation. O Faith is a young and hungry artist but one that is willing to confess anxieties and let you into her world. The origination of this is Birthday Blues. The song addresses the everyday fears and common doubts – growing older and feeling mortality creep in. Of course, those of a certain age, have less to fear when it comes to their lifespan but the song’s message is one we can all relate to. Every passing year is going to get us looking forward and back: how much (if anything) we achieved that year and how far short we are of goals and desires. The fans and followers have spoken and showing the song lots of love and respect. It is worth keeping your eyes on Michelle O Faith as, in addition to her E.P., she has some live gigs coming up – including a date at Lost in the Manor’s Blogtober festival (on twenty-second) – playing at The Finsbury in London. Not only will she share the stage with some fine artists – see the official page for more details – but a chance to get her latest single to new ears. Looking at the feedback Birthday Blues has already accrued: it is a song that has resonated with people for a number of different reasons. Not only do the lyrics highlight some vulnerability and fears inside O Faith: there is a common sentiment that causes the listener to address their own life and purposefulness.
Once the dust has settled on Birthday Blues and the excitement being generated; fresh eyes and ears will want more from Michelle O Faith and what she has to offer. Since her debut E.P., she has been busy promoting and performing: connecting with her fan-base and recruiting new supporters. I feel she’s an artist that has a bright future and someone who has many more E.P.s in her. In terms of the coming year: more music and dates; fresh confidence and ambitions for sure. I would not bet against O Faith being a mainstream fixture in a few years; it is exciting watching her take these steps and impress so early on. Before I conclude things, I wanted to look back at the original points – great female singer-songwriters; new, big sounds and personalities – and look forward to 2017. Over the past few weeks, I have discovered some tremendous young artists and great female musicians. In terms of the mainstream acts popping up: the likes of Julia Jacklin have really excited me. I listen to the chart-approved music and feel it is not as deep, compelling and mature as it should be. There is still a raft of teen-aimed Pop stars that might have energy and fervency but possess no emotion, nuance or anything a proper music fan requires. I hope, one day in the future, there is a revolution that sees the mainstream Pop charts defined by absolute quality and innovation. Whether consumers desire or require the sort of machine-fed, committee-penned clichés is an argument for another day. The artists that deserve attention most – and, sadly, are often overlooked – are those we should be proffering. Michelle O Faith is one such example and someone who is making some impressive footprints. I opened with the opinion that the female songwriters emerging are stronger than their male equivalents. Whilst that may be an opinion many argue against: few can deny the fascinating young musicians in our midst. I have extolled the virtues of Billie Marten many times over – someone who is ready-made and fated for the big leagues. She is not an anomaly: instead, the personification of 2016’s female talent.
Not only someone who is consistently stunning and breath-taking but has a mature and wise head on her shoulders. O Faith, polemic in terms of her music, has a lot of Marten-esque strands and personality traits. Both are instantly loveable and intoxicating: O Faith is one of the hardest-working and active musicians you’ll find. As I stated earlier: her social media feed is filled with positive feedback; she often connects with fans and keeps everyone informed as to her going-ons and activity. Having comprehensively studied Birthday Blues – I hope my review does it the service it deserves – I am excited about the forthcoming E.P. I know, from brief exchanges with O Faith, how excited and pumped she is for the release. She lacks pretention and ego and is as pure and real as artists come. This honesty and unfettered personality comes through in the music and, as a result, has seen her fan numbers rise significantly. There are not many artists (British at least) that are combining intelligent, original lyrics with symphonic, atmospheric sounds and topping it all off with a blend of innate beauty and lusciousness. Michelle O Faith has that enticing combination of sensitivity and confidence and a singular songwriter who requires few other bodies ensuring her music is heard. That is deeply impressive – in a time where too many new musicians rely on other writers/producers – so we should provide her full support and backing. Birthday Blues is a stunning cut from a soon-to-be-awesome E.P. Not only one that announces a tremendous young talent but will provide inspiration, guidance and wisdom to (younger, upcoming) musicians that will hear it. Few higher compliments can be paid to a musician, so with that considered, ensure…
YOU bring this wonderful talent into your life.
Follow Michelle O Faith