Very few musicians explode into being as fully formed artists, though some would like you to believe that that’s the case… Looking at you Lana. If you’re lucky then you might catch the first rough sketches and demos on old Soundclouds before they disappear (looking at you alt-J…), but if you’re even luckier, then you’ll be around to catch an artist just as they bring all the pieces together to find their “sound”. To that tune, folk artist turned electronic siren, Vera Blue, has just dropped her debut single in a new guise, and with her new found sound.
Dropping those bare elements for more sophisticated sound, Celia Pavey (aka Vera Blue) has truly hit her stride with an amalgamation of folk, electronica and R&B on Hold.
Hold is a minimal but soaring track that sees Vera Blue swapping her acoustic guitar for beats and layered vocals. Co-written with producers Andy and Thom Mak, as well as Melbourne’s Gossling – another artist bridging the gap between folk and pop – the song sets a velvety and atmospheric backdrop for the sweetness of her voice. Pavey clearly feels that Hold brings her to where she wants to be as an artist; “I’ve always wanted to create something that’s a blend of folk and cool, heavy, thick sounds,” she says. “This is the music I have been wanting to make and I feel like I’m unleashing.”
It’s a good description, as despite the light touch on the individual elements in Hold, there is a vastness to the sound that fits the heavy, thick sound Pavey references. There’s no getting away from the purity of her vocals, but juxtaposing against clattering, echoing beats and shimmering synths pulls them into the same arena as artists like London Grammar. Talking about the inspiration behind the lyrics, which are at the fore of the track, Pavey describes the hopeful sentiment: “This song is about finding someone who pulls you out of a dark place… It’s about when you’ve opened your heart so many times to people and you finally find that person who is there to protect you, to look after you, even when you’ve hurt them and they’ve hurt you. You never give up on them.”
Luckily, Pavey refrains from making Hold too sickly sweet, or overwhelming it with that balladic feel. There’s a poignancy to the instrumentation and even a certain darkness to ambiguous lyrics like “I love the way you tied me down”. Delivered across the minimal percussion, Vera Blue skirts the feel of FKA Twigs or NAO with a dark PBR&B edge, before launching into the pop-perfect chorus. In a touching arrangement, the acoustic guitar isn’t quite forgotten. Taking up a synth line as the track closes, cascading finger picking has the feel of a Carpenters track and is a nice nod to Pavey’s roots.
Dropping a video to accompany the track, Hold has stormed through the scene since its release last month. Even hitting number one on the Spotify Aussie Viral 50 Chart, it’s clear that Vera Blue has nailed it with her new feel. Released as the debut single, she is expected to follow up with a five track EP next year, which will include Hold in the tracklisting. Assuming a name which roughly translate to ‘faith’, Vera Blue seems to have lived by her own moniker – which has now definitely paid off with this stunning breakthrough.