Fenne Lily – On Hold

The debut album from Bristol-based singer-songwriter Fenne Lily holds few surprises for those already with an ear on the artist but is nonetheless full of vulnerability and fragmented beauty.

Sarah Lay reviews.

Label: self-released
Released: 6 April 2018

Such is the hunger of the digital beast, demanding artist’s constantly drop morsels of ‘content’ into its gaping maw in return for a chance at rising above the perpetual online noise, that no less than seven of the ten songs offered up on Fenne Lily‘s debut have already had a release of some kind.

This may say much about the changing of the ways in releasing music, or it may speak of an artist who came to music accidentally and has tentatively made her way toward this full release, writing only when there was no other way, and then holding on to the songs.

Swelling with the heartbreak and hope of a relationship’s end On Hold is full of delicate, pastoral melody and vocals dripping in vulnerability. Groundbreaking? Hugely experimental? No and no. It’s simply done acoustics for the most part, with some soft backing (ably provided by fellow Bristolians Champs) hitting touchstones along the way: Bon Iver, early Emmy The Great, and Laura Marling (to who she has been thoroughly compared).

Tracing a break-up and the anger, sadness, liberation, and hope that comes with it Lily’s voice often cracks around the words, tapering off to underline the weight of the emotions. There’s a touch of sadgirl-with-guitar in places but more often it strays toward a folksy, stripped back and modest exploration of identity and particularly how much of that is wrapped up with the lives of men.

Highlight’s come from Top To Toe, which breathlessly chronicles that golden moment, that surge of possibilities as friendship turns into love; and album closer For A While¬†on which vocals are mellowed, the loss diminishes and self begins to return as that sense of hope is bolstered by shimmering backing arrangements.

As a debut there is much to like about On Hold, even the bits already heard. Put together there’s a sense of continuity, a hint at growing artistic confidence, and an honesty which leaves Fenne Lily’s own mark on this well-trodden musical path.

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica. A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist. Follow her @sarahlay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top