Manage episode 377891577 series 1375605
And in the “leave them wanting more” category, we have British folk artist Liana Flores’ 2019 EP Recently. With its five songs and sub-fifteen-minute runtime, it offers high quality and painfully little quantity.
The songs do everything good folk music is typically supposed to do: provide emotionally electric lyrics hidden behind deceptively soothing, minimal instrumentation. The title track is the perfect example; the guitar sounds for all the world like a lost demo by Joao Gilberto, and it isn’t until you’ve begun happily tapping your foot that you realize she’s singing about contemplating taking her own life.
Or there’s “Mother Tongue,” which delivers aching lines about not knowing her mother: “She gave me half my bones / and made me one of my lungs[…] I’ve known since I was pretty young / I never learned my mother’s mother tongue.”
But for me, the opening track “Rises the Moon” is the EP’s best offering, and in some ways it might be the perfect folk song.
What makes this a beautiful song:
1. There’s a constant shifting between major and minor. There’s one note in particular – as the main melody runs partway up the scale – that feels like it’s a semitone higher than it ought to be, a major third when it should be minor. To me this builds on the sun/moon duality that the song is built around.
2. It’s hard to hear without headphones, but about a minute in you can hear the softest hummed backup vocals in the background.
3. The message in the lyrics feels straightforward at first: bad days will eventually end, the moon will rise, circle of life, etc. And yet there’s a hint of pessimism in the last line: “I promise you that soon the autumn comes / To steal away each dream you keep.” So although the moon rising means that bad days end, it also means that time runs out on certain things we want to accomplish. It’s major and minor all at once.
Recommended listening activity:
Eating something that is both salty and sweet.