Spotlight!: Lily Agnes

How do you make a great album? Perhaps it involves songs coming together to tell a story, perfectly capturing a mood or theme, maybe doing something fresh and experimental, or simply packing it start to finish with big accessible hits. People have found and forged many alternate paths to make great albums over the years. But EPs are a different story. They are a relatively newer format, often lacking the same attention and prestige, and one which has primarily been used by up-and-coming artists. As such we’re presented with a far narrower path to take towards what makes a great EP. It needs to tell you all you need to know about an artist, and leave you wanting to hear more. A mission statement of their creative ambitions; well-rounded enough to showcase the broadest possible range of their talents, yet restrained enough to leave listeners longing for whatever may come next.

London based singer/songwriter Lily Agnes reveals a lot about herself, as an artist and as a person, on her debut EP Lucid Dreams. Not by providing us with answers, but in allowing us to tag along as she questions herself, her thoughts and feelings, and reflects on her place within the world around her. It’s full of tracks perfectly suited for late night introspection, those early hours where the world lies still and you’re left alone with all your intrusive thoughts swirling round your head like a hurricane in slow motion. One listen of the moody jazz infused pop of opening track ‘The 52’ is all it takes to feel completely intoxicated by Lily’s artistry. With its haunting refrain of “am I enough, or am I too much?“, it has all the soulful melancholy of Jeff Buckley. ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ tackles toxic masculinity, and how hard it is to connect with someone who won’t allow themselves to feel, while ‘Messy as My Mind‘ is home to some beautifully bewitching vocal runs that linger and twirl like wisps of smoke in a candlelit room. Co-written with Lizzy McAlpine, the dreamy haze of ‘Nightmare Movie’ dwells on fears of abandonment, and the breathy vocals on this track feel so perfectly fleeting and ephemeral like the loved ones you fear to lose. Meanwhile the austere folk of ‘Kansas City’ dreams of an idyllic love that’s not meant to be, stripping away the finery to shine a light on Lily’s superb cinematic storytelling. 

If a great EP is about getting to know an artist, then Lucid Dreams goes about it the right way; like the difference between deep meaningful conversation and shallow small talk. By reflecting inwards rather that projecting outwards, we are given a better understanding of ourselves as well as the artist. From the smoky, soulful arrangements and stirring vocals, to the captivating contemplative lyricism, these few songs present a more focused and cohesive artistic statement than most full albums you’ll hear this year. Together these songs paint a clear and vivid portrait of a rising star ready to take the world by storm.

Fans of Lizzie McAlpine, Jeff Buckley and Lianne La Havas should check out Lily Agnes’ debut EP Lucid Dreams out now.