Perfectly described by the artist herself as her “isolation creation,” Matriarch is awash with emotion and inspiration drawn from the everyday to the extraordinary. With stages and studios no longer an outlet for her creativity she taught herself how to record at home and found subject matter for her songs all around her – her daughter, her home life, the pandemic, her friends, enforced isolation, life in general and, not least, the 20 year anniversary of the loss of her mother. And being such a swirl of emotions, it is an album that has the power to make you laugh, cry, scream, rage, and raise a cathartic smile in equal measures.
And if she finds its messages in myriad moods and events, musically the album also freely runs across all manner of sounds and styles, musical reference points and sonic touchstones to build an eclectic and dynamically shifting alt-pop record.
The title track speaks for itself, a slow and brooding, powerful and richly anthemic track that tells of how being a mother changes you in the most powerful and profound ways. There are explosive rock numbers such as Dreaming of Giants, soulful and drifting ballads like Withdrawal and the buoyant and beautiful pop of opener This Ride. And, arguably, saving the best till last, her rendition of Smile, a song which trivia fans will already know is from a Charlie Chaplin tune and made famous by Nat King Cole, is just sublime. Just singer and sentiment in perfect harmony. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!
Even without the back story, Matriarch would be a fine album. But the fact that the songs come from both very personal and yet totally relatable places, intimate experiences and universal understandings, makes it a near-perfect one.