As the stunning, layered vocals of ESSIE HOLT wash over you in the opening moments of 'Underwater', it's hard to fight the urge to close your eyes and float away into utopia. As more and more sounds begin to flood your brain and race through bloodstream, it becomes pretty clear that while we're staying afloat, Essie Holt is sinking.
"We picked our battles / Most of them, you won," she sings with her rich, sombre tone; a voice drenched in hopelessness and melancholy. The stellar production from Joel Quartermain (who has worked with the likes of Meg Mac & Dustin Tebbutt) slowly builds the morose verse with little instrumentation before the tidal wave of infectious guitar-led melodies crashes the chorus giving us a soaring moment when we weren't expecting it. As the sun glistens down on a calm ocean front, Essie Holt is just below the surface struggling for air. It's a beautiful and disturbing juxtaposition that's both difficult and irresistible to listen to.
Of the song, Essie Holt describes how it was written about the flooding of emotions she felt after a particularly rattling conversation. “I wrote 'Underwater' super late one night after a pretty heavy conversation," she says. "I’d had to swallow a lot of words in that moment, so when I sat down at the piano the song came relatively fast. It’s about the blurred senses you experience when something really shakes you."
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Essie Holt's senses might be blurred - distorted like light trying to shine through a rough sea - but her skill, talent and overflowing creativity is crystal clear.
Words by JACKSON LANGFORD