”Written byJosh Raynham
“Alice takes us on an introspective journey of self-reflection.”
When Alice Phoebe Lou turned 30 earlier this month, she began on a journey that many artists fear as a change in season, Alice, however, saw it as the turn of her century. For Alice, this milestone proved to be the catalyst for what would become a look back at a life that, even though sometimes filled with trials and tribulations, would turn into a life of strengths and successes. Upheaval often proves as incentive for change, both as a look back at one’s life as well as a look towards the future. Yet, what one also has to realise is that upheaval proves worth it when we just stop and look down, up, and around at where we are now, in this present moment.
So, when Alice was evicted from her home of four years in Berlin, Germany, she took this as an opportunity to take a step back and realise that home, while often a physical place that one really needs or even desires, can just as often be an idea, a metaphysical place that one carries with them wherever they may go. While Alice may not have known this at the time, these revelations, these swirling contradictions would evidently take the form of a new album. “Shelter”, is a poignant journey into the soft and angelic sound of Alice Phoebe Lou, containing a gentle yet assured collection of songs we know you will enjoy.
“I kind of just had to confront a lot of things and start to realise and understand what’s important to me – what makes me feel safe, what makes me feel good,” Lou says.
Lyrical meaning often changes over time. A song written today may spur emotions felt later on. Yet I feel that the essence of a song is never really lost in time. The soul that is forever bound to a line or even a word will always be there, along with the memory. Alice talks about “having a conversation with her younger self”. In the album, she explores the ethereal path of one’s own mind. Her voice speaks emotion, and along with her poetic lyrics, she is able to deliver a sound that gathers those lost and shows them a way home.
She explains: “It’s so important to reckon with the past and to accept and forgive yourself and others, and for you to find some sort of understanding for the traumas, the incidences, the relationships, everything that has come before, especially in the tumultuous years of being a teenager into becoming a woman. That was my most difficult time.”
The first single of the album, evidently named “Shelter“, speaks directly to this upheaval of life, the acceptance of it, and the power with which one may find themselves having to navigate, within the world as well as within themselves.
The second single, “Open My Door“, sings a blend of languorous, star-gazing arrangements of soft, mellow vocals. Started when she was first on her way back to Berlin when she was 19, she was later able to find solace in a self-created writing retreat in LA, where she evidently completed the song as the lyrics “poured” out of her. Again with the theme of talking to her younger self, “Open My Door” sees Alice use her lyrics as a message. “What I’m saying to myself in the second part of that song is what I needed to hear when I was younger,” she says.
Other tracks, like the energetic ‘Lose My Head’ are forceful and purging, while the tender ‘Angel’ is a combination of all of her contradictory feelings from throughout the pandemic until the present day.
The final song in the album, “My Girl,” is an exploration of a patriarchal society. Alice speaks to a girl, or rather to herself, about the world, confidence, and one’s path to self-reliance. I enjoy how Alice speaks not only to herself but also to a greater whole. Encouraging a change in the minds of many towards an independent yet assertive reality.
“I’ve always had the attitude of, ‘I’m an underground or an alternative artist’, and I’m not asking to be a pop star, and I don’t want anyone to think that’s where I’m going or try to push me there,” she says. “I don’t want to headline a massive stage. That’s not really what my music is asking for.” – Alice
As Alice continues her journey, she reminisces of her time busking in the streets of Berlin, a past time that she still enjoys today. “I think I always very feverishly just held on to busking as a part of my identity,” she says.
Alice’s independence allows her to continue to follow her vision of authenticity within herself. Steering clear of traditional industry pressures, she is given the space to create in a way that feels congruent with her morals.
As she steps into this next chapter in her music career, she is reminded of the path that she is on. “From here, the only desire for me is to just keep making cool things and trying things,” she says. This album gives a good indicator of that path as it transpires into the growth and continuation of a musician we hold so close to our hearts.
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