Following on from a string of impressive releases over the last few years, which have been championed by the likes of BBC 6Music, emerging singer and songwriter Bess Atwell now returns to deliver the debut single on her new home at Lucy Rose’s Real Kind Records, ‘Co-op’.
Premiered on Steve Lamacq’s BBC 6Music show, ‘Co-op’ sees her channel more of the same smooth and enticing direction she has shown on her previous offerings. Having garnered comparisons to the likes of Lana Del Rey in the past, she still maintains that fresh and distinctive British folk direction, which is why Lucy Rose was so keen to bring her to the Real Kind Records fold.
Speaking about the signing, Lucy Rose said, “I am so pleased to announce the signing of Bess Atwell to Real Kind Records. She is a phenomenal artist, songwriter and all round person. Her voice is like nothing I’ve heard before and her way of telling stories and communicating her thoughts through her music is really extraordinary. I’ve honestly never come across an artist like her before and I’m extremely excited for what’s ahead of her.”
While Bess added about the single, “Flipping between past and present tense, I think of this song the same way I think of a memory that keeps interrupting the current moment. It’s a snapshot of a time of refuge and routine.
“It’s an illustration of mine and my partner’s life together. The relationship seemed to provide me with some sort of permission to recuperate from family trauma, as if realising for the first time that there was a life outside of that chaos lulled me into an emotional slumber. Through the song I grapple with the desire for, and fear of, comfort. I used references to Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway’ to depict a vivid nostalgia and an affinity for trivialities that serve to calm when darker thoughts set it.”
‘Co-op’ is also accompanied by a wonderful new self-directed video. Inspired heavily by the emotional context of the track, she looked to create visuals that took inspiration from the song’s lyrics without being too crass and predictable with their meaning.
Adding about the video, she said, “The music video, directed by me and shot by my good friend George Ogilvie, directly references one of the lyrics (“half your furniture we found on the street outside”). I didn’t want to be too on-the-nose by shooting the video in a supermarket, but I also didn’t want to shy away from that bold imagery, so I came up with the concept of shopping for memories / home comforts. The video attempts to marry two worlds at odds with each other – the mundane and the emotional – by contrasting the props, outfit, and setting.
“I associate the song with the boldness of the colour red and that was important to me to capture within this, occasionally whimsical, video. Co-op started out as a bit of a private joke, so I wanted the video to have a self-awareness and sense of humour to it too. I think there can be a tendency, when you’re shooting a music video yourself, to try too hard to make it look professional. Instead, I wanted to lean into the fun of making it with a friend. It felt reminiscent of our childhoods, when we would make up plays or dances and perform them to anyone who would watch.”
‘Co-op’ is an exquisite work that unfurls like one of those first precious blooms of spring; luscious ripples of guitar surround Atwell’s crystalline vocals (that will undoubtedly draw favourable comparisons to the likes of Marika Hackman and Julia Jacklin). Her lyrics switch between the past and present tense, offering polaroid snapshots of a time where refuge and routine took precedent. It’s a charming vignette of Atwell’s life with her partner; a relationship that provided “some sort of permission to recuperate from family trauma”. It lays the groundwork for the ensuing exploration, what drives us to seek comfort, and what drives us away from it. This is perhaps most evident in her referencing Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway in the line, “It’s the laughter, it’s the plunge”. That scene – where the title character looks out at a peaceful view and is suddenly overwhelmed by dread that something terrible is about to happen – encapsulates what Atwell is trying to understand through her music.
WATCH THE VIDEO FOR ‘CO-OP’ HERE – https://youtu.be/dzmI51FcIe8
LISTEN TO THE SINGLE HERE – https://open.spotify.com/track/5wrYMoKrMCFlvPah7UUFHh?si=1aEO1Ey3SqqJ2L4VyqYa6g
LONDON SHOW ANNOUNCED FOR MAY 26TH @ OSLO, HACKNEYTICKETS ON SALE NOW FROM http://www.bessatwell.com