Life is meant to make us uncomfortable, gasping for breath in the fallout of pain and heartache. We often collapse underneath the weight, and if we can, we learn from it and move on. Songwriting then is the makeshift lens by which some process and retell their experiences, risky and arduous as they may be, their skin battered, bruised and toughened up for the next round of battering blows. Singer-songwriter Lizzy Farrall lays her wounds out for us to bear witness, and as she regals tales of broken hearts, self-blame and family affairs on her long-awaited debut EP, All I Said Was Never Heard (an aptly grueling title exposing inner strife and her struggle to contain it), we are left emotionally drained.
Her vocal density is bone-chilling, ignited from the outset with “Broken Toy,” a forlorn, whimsical folk ballad about a former lover, who has somehow managed to live in a world without her. “After all this time, my mind still wonders back to you,” she opines with crisp, venomous licks of childlike angst over treacherous, slippery guitar strokes. Her voice flutters with drunken spite, the tension paper thin as she draws out each lyrical detail until it snaps. “I’ll forever be that broken toy on your shelf,” she later sketches, fleshing out the exact brutality of her misery. She plays in similar shades on “Pack of Wolves,” a disturbing exposé of her family, who contributed its own murderous rampage to Farrall’s troubled emotional and spiritual sojourn to self-worth (even though she remains tight-lipped on exactly why), and the animalistic drums cut even deeper. “I will never be favored as much as she,” she hisses, ostensibly cutting ties for justifiable independence. “I won’t be in your pack no more / I’ll be the lone wolf to wander…” She places blame outward, never once mincing her words: “I am your mess / Look what you created.”
On another affecting performance, the guitar-led “Hollow Friends,” which is later pumped full of lush, warm horns, she dissects a history of mental illness, particularly during her youth. “I’m so sick of pretending to feel nothing when it’s there / Tell my friends not to care / I wanna be alone,” she testifies. Through her urgent, painstaking song craft, Farrall connects the dots of various toxic relationships, which often run parallel or severely against her own personal unrest. The coupling of “Better With” and “Better Off” depict how easily well-intended bonds can break, fear dooming her to repeat the cycle like a self-fulfilling prophesy from which she can never escape. Farrell is a tremendous storyteller, and she beacons you to follow while tearing you apart in the exact same breath.
Grade: 4 out of 5