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ZOE WEES on her debut album Therapy
WORDS by Tessa Swantek TALENTZoe Wees PR °1824 PHOTOGRAPHY Lillie Eiger
Listening to Zoe Wees’ debut album, Therapy, feels like walking through ash, rubble, and stretched open skies. There’s a lot of destruction and creation in her music; It comes with vulnerability and loneliness, but also hopefulness and freedom. She says the album makes her picture an orange splashed sunset. It feels like an end, but also a promise that something new is just on the horizon.
The album’s first track, “Sorry for the Drama” opens with lyrics “No, I’ve never seen/The sunset from the other side of the world” as she reflects on wanting what she couldn’t have. She apologizes for being unhappy with what her ‘mum’ already provided. It’s a stunning opener, covering a topic that we don’t often hear in music. She takes a hammer to an old mindset - the end and the beginning.
The next track, “Lightning” plays on this destruction as she sings, “When it's pourin' down, I'll be comin' in stronger / I'ma strike like lightnin' / You won't hear a sound, can't say I never warned ya / I'ma strike like lightnin' / When the dark hits, take my chances / I'll be dancin' on the ashes / When it's pourin' down, I'll be comin' in stronger / I'ma strike like lightnin.” It lays the groundwork for the rest of the album to live and be built. The album shakes with power that is both loud and quiet. “Love Should Be Easy,” “Lifeline” and “Nothing’s Forever,” for example, showcase a soft and sweet sound. The songs are about letting go, holding on, and being let go - parts of life that are beautifully expressed in “That’s How it Goes.” It’s a consistent rising crescendo that you know will fall, but soon rise again.
Zoe says she wrote “Lifeline” to remind herself how strong she is. With the album being called Therapy, it’s very important that the album doesn’t feel conclusively resolute - it feels like growth and the joy and pain that comes with it. Zoe says, “I’m just starting, but I’m so confident now. I’m only getting stronger and learning.” Zoe’s strong suit is her vulnerability in her lyrics. It is a quality that is present in each song she releases - some of her most popular songs like “Control,” “Third Wheel,” and “Hold Me Like You Used To” all fit the album, despite her artistic growth, for this reason.
Of the newer releases, “Daddy’s Eyes,” “Hold Me,” “21 Candles,” and “On My Own” are some of her more soul-baring tracks. “Daddy’s Eyes” and “21 Candles” feel like two sides of the same coin with the former being focused on the process of dealing with unresolved feelings about her father being absent while the latter is the start of feeling some peace about it. Both are rife with intense growing pains as she goes through each burning birthday. “21 Candles” is the album’s climax as she sings, “After twenty-one candles / I am done wastin’ my breath.” When asked about the track she shares that she “just recorded it once and that it is “definitely the realest song next to ‘Control.’”
'21 Candles' is definitely the realest song next to 'Control.'
21 Candles by Zoe Wees
As Zoe sits on Zoom with press the day before the album’s release, she is soft-spoken and it is clear her self-expression makes a home in the power of her music. She shares, “When I write the songs, I don’t really think about releasing them. When it comes to that part, it’s really hard because I’m talking about personal stuff I never told anyone. But it’s the best way to express myself and make other people feel less lonely.” “Hold Me” and “On My Own” make space for this loneliness that becomes not so solitary with the album’s release. When asked about “Hold Me,” Zoe says, “I played a really big festival and came back to the hotel room and felt so lonely for the first time in my life. It was such a weird feeling.” On the themes of her album, she openly shares, “It’s really hard for some people to get help. You’re not alone and it will pass and be fine someday. It’s important to talk about those things.” She continues, “The more honesty you give, the more you get back.” As much as she is reaching out for others in these tracks, she is also hoping that her listeners can reach for her.
A lot of the second half of the album feels like a breakthrough, a tunnel of light in the rubble. Musically, the second half strays away from her signature piano based compositions. “You Ain’t Really Good For Me” is cinematic and rock-sounding. It’s gravelly and boisterous, with lyrics that feel like she has gained control. Creation feels like it’s in her hands now. “Don’t Give Up” is hopeful as she sings, “When the world turns upside down / And you're fallin' to the ground / And the ocean's in the sky, got you feelin' low / When the world turns upside down / And you're fallin' to the ground / And the ocean's in the sky, don't give up, no, no.” It has an upbeat, dance-track energy. In these tracks, she’s not on the other end of pain but there is a sense of optimism. In “Nothing But You” she sings, “And I try, I try, I try / Just to keep some hope alive / Though my problems fallin' like rain keeps pourin' / If I didn't have you, I'd drown.” She says “Less Of A Woman” is “about how I started to love my body and myself.” She continues, “Songs like ‘Less Of A Woman’ [are] where I’m starting to be more hopeful and open.”
The more honesty you give, the more you get back
There’s a lot of peace in the album’s final track, “When It Hurts.” She sings, “We've been through the best and the worst / Every single blessin', every curse, yeah / Even when I can't say the words / You hold my heart when it hurts / You always come along for the ride / Hold my hand on a four-hour flight, yeah / Even when I can't say the words / You hold my heart when it hurts.” It feels simple and still, a beautiful end to the twenty track album.
Lightning by Zoe Wees
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