Gina Graves delivers a dreamy pop record with And We Rise that twists and turns around simple ideas, helping it stand out amongst the crowd.
Gina Graves is like that little voice inside all of our heads. You know the one. The one that says “you’re not good enough” or “don’t even try, you can’t compete so why bother?”. Well, Gina aims to take all these childlike vulnerabilities that many of us carry through life, and spin them on their head with new record And We Rise. Relying heavily on a dreamy pop quality that gets stronger as the record continues, the artist plays with this sound by contrasting it with conflicting arrangements and melodies that allow it to thrive amongst a crowded genre.
Everything You Are starts off the record with haunting synths before piano joins in to create a discerning atmosphere. Graves’ vocals are swiftly added, carrying a simple charm that works well throughout, heavily focused on lingering notes and pop connotations. The track gets more epic as it continues, bringing to mind artists such as Enya or Bjork – masters of the big and bold. The veil is lifted in the recesses of the track as the drums come to life and Gina sings of redemption against divine love.
Glide features a playful acoustic guitar that suits the vocal range really well. But the spritely beginning is misleading, which Gina plays on in an impressive way through the lyrics: “You must think I’m brave, you must think I’m strong, thank you for your faith, but with all due respect I’m done”. She uses this underlying vulnerability to bring the track to life amongst a dreamy pop atmosphere, never failing to surprise in its moral beauty as the track progresses – even featuring harp that brings with it a strong Disney vibe. You can just imagine Belle sweeping across the dance floor with the beast in hand as they spin round and round.
New Star’s wonderful changes in melody lead up to a strong chorus, and although some lyrics are a bit cheesy, Graves manages to get away with it due to the overall contrasting tones of the track.I Am Light continues the epic theme by entering strong ballad territory, with one of the strongest piano and vocal tracks on the record. This is beautifully contrasted against Turn Blue as the album once again turns to the darker side with a dreamy atmosphere against slightly concerning lyrics that hint towards feelings of rejection and inadequacy. It finds comfort in it’s own solace as Graves spills her feelings all over the ground for the listener to pick up and decipher.
The record finishes on a high with Album-titled track And We Rise, summing it up pretty well with its usual ambient but progressive sound that builds to an inventive chorus that isn’t want you expect. It ebbs and flows to great effect, playing on a child-like quality and vulnerability that has been building up throughout the record, and finally fully realised here.
And We Rise may fall into cliches in areas, but it has enough verve, guile and interesting changes to set it apart from the rest. Graves’ songwriting is at the top of her game here, as she pushes a adolescent vulnerability to its limits, creating a real sincerity to the record that many listeners will be able to relate to.
By Jamie Parmenter