Ask Alice’s ‘Heartwork’ EP review by Mya Brown
As we ease ourselves into a new year, the urge to reset is more prevalent than ever. At Mill, we know that nothing kickstarts that spark quite like a new artist in the daily music cycle. So, as we look forward to what 2022 brings, we look back on an amazing release from 2021 in the shape of Ask Alice’s Heartwork EP.
The EP features five tracks of raw, conceptual brilliance as we follow Paisley’s Natalie Joy, visionary of Ask Alice, through her journey of healing and heartbreak. It shows us what may seep through the cracks of mental health and covers topics such as depression and PTSD. So, let’s dive in and discover Heartwork in all of its emotive splendour.
‘Free World’ (watch on Youtube) opens this EP in a haunting and impactful way as it reflects a time when the artist began to question the world around her and deviated from the beaten track. The track twists and distorts around Joy’s simple,yet incredible vocals and blends beautifully, giving the listener a real sense of going off the grid as we hear the song’s protagonist descend into doubt. With its power, this composition quickly became a favourite.
‘Death by Darkness’ is quick on the pulse with its tongue-in-cheek window into the artist’s frame of mind, eventually pulling us into the story of overcoming darkness. Here, influences such as Lana Del Ray and Billie Eilish really shine as the lyrics reflect dark and even disturbing lyrics to some. As a result, it is a dream for those who like to dig deeper and connect with the artist on a new level.
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The title track ‘Heartwork’ (watch on YouTube) can only be compared to a moment of peace as we hear the artist sing a hymn of acceptance. It navigates through intense feelings, drawing the line between what helps us grow and what makes us fall apart. In short, it is beautiful.
It’s an out of body experience that feels as though it were a chance to look at yourself and to really see and accept who you are. Keeping the sound consistent throughout an EP may be a risk to some, but inthe case of Heartwork, its sonic throughline really ties it all together.
‘Outro’ is both a song and a conversation, holding the hand of the listener as they hear the project come full circle. This track pulls on the heartstrings as we hear the painful revelations throughout Joy’s discovery. It is haunting yet ethereal, tapping into some of our deepest personal fears. With its building vocals, strings that scream and pounding drums, this was less of an outro as it was a finale.
In five short songs, Heartwork accounts for a full experience in under 20 minutes and it is absolutely incredible. It asks deep, insightful questions, forcing the listener to look at themselves and think. Now, we can only hope that it gets the attention that a body of work such as this so throughly deserves.