Listening to Esme Bridie, it is easy to see why ‘youthquake’ was the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year 2017. At only nineteen years old, she demonstrates incredible maturity in both vocals and lyrics in her debut album, ‘Today It Rains’. It’s impossible to listen to without feeling privileged to have had the opportunity to experience her understanding of the world, which would be admirably perceptive in someone four times her age. Bridie’s impressive vocal range and the beautiful acoustic instrumentals transform her philosophies into poetry. The end result is masterful.
From start to finish, the album consistently showcases Bridie’s musical prowess. The opening track, ‘Self Destructive’, is heartfelt, contemplative, wise and fiercely brave. It sets a standard for the rest of the LP which Bridie rises to with seeming effortlessness. By the time ‘Today It Rains’ draws to a close with the yearning strings and catchy acoustics of ‘Precious Life’, Bridie has taken you on a journey through life’s hardest and happiest moments. All the while, her intelligence, poeticism and sincerity have you hanging on her every word. This is a young woman with something to say, and a beautiful voice with which to say it.
Bridie also has a flair for imagery. Rain appears perennially in music and other artforms, but Bridie rescues it from predictability and makes full use of its poetic potency in this LP. The title appears in ‘What You Had Yesterday’, when Bridie sings “yesterday the sun was shining, but today it rains.” It is a perfect example of her ability to express the intricate experiences of loss, grief and healing. Yet in ‘In love With The City’, rain appears again to an entirely different effect. As Bridie describes a rain-soaked pavement at night, she captures the beauty of the urban North with moving simplicity. The album even sounds rainy. The blustery, powerhouse atmospherics of its gem, ‘Tower Of Regret’, prove that, despite appearances, Bridie is a force of nature.
‘Today It Rains’ is a confessional album, but Bridie’s powers of observation are by no means limited to introspection. In ‘The Queen Bee’, Bridie confronts the fraught topic of worker exploitation in our twenty-first century first world society head on with more nerve and candour than you’re likely to find in a year’s worth of episodes of Prime Minister’s Questions. This is a singer not just in touch with her own inner world, but the world around her as well. Paired with jazzy instrumentals, it’s a gorgeous demonstration of Bridie’s versatility.
Esme Bridie is not unaware of her youth. In the penultimate track, ‘Only Young’, she acknowledges the limitations associated with her age. Her forthright manner of doing so, however, only goes to show the strength of her unusually early worldliness. Throughout the LP, she demonstrates an understanding of life and its complexities that is astute, nuanced and grounded, and presents it to the listener with an effectual combination of unwavering boldness and aching vulnerability. She does not attempt to answer life’s most difficult questions, but through her thought-provoking openness and eloquence, she leaves you feeling considerably wiser after the forty minutes it takes to listen to ‘Today It Rains’.
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Perhaps the most important element of ‘Today It Rains’ is the message it conveys about the human capacity for resilience. From the ferocity of ‘Tower of Regret’ to the quiet honesty of ‘Big Brown Boots’, it celebrates survival. It is sometimes doleful, sometimes aggressive, sometimes resigned, but never pitiful. The overwhelming impression left by the album is that life is worth fighting for. It is an exploration not just of existence, but of vibrancy, of finding beauty in the everyday. It is a touching reminder of why music matters so very much.
This LP is a delight for the ears, mind and heart. It will make you think, cry and want to dance. Bridie has all the originality that a young artist should have and wisdom to put her seniors to shame. Liverpool has a new musical genius.
‘Today It Rains’ is out on the 23rd March 2018 via Klee Music.