Sarah Mary Chadwick strips back to just piano and vocals with the beautifully crafted and personal, Me and Ennui are Friends, Baby.
Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Sarah Mary Chadwick is one of those artists who is not afraid to hold back from anything, a refreshing and needed trait in any art form if you want to get far. 2019 was a difficult year for her, however, resulting in an attempt to take her own life due to personal troubles, the death of her father and a close friend, and the breakup of a long-term relationship. New album Me and Ennui are Friends, Baby is the singer letting loose all of her emotional turmoil that surrounds these grueling circumstances whilst also reverting back to a more stripped-back sound of just piano and vocals.
Starting with A Mother’s Love, there’s no gentle build up into the record. Instead, we’re thrown straight into Chadwick’s personal world of pain and emotional turmoil that encompassed her during the writing of the record. The track manages to pull the listener into the artist’s heartbreaking world as she floats between hard instances and hard choices that are lyrically portrayed in mesmerising ways: “I said I’d face the fire and I meant it”.
Following with the more melodic At Your Leisure allows the intensity of the lyrics to be realised in an even more meaningful way as Chadwick gently caresses her stories out of their shell. The listener is able to clearly hear the torment and discomfort in her vocal performance which makes you feel sorry for her, knowing where the pain is coming from.
Even though the record is full of heavy material, it’s Chadwick’s expert wordplay and lyrical ingenuity that adds a lighter layer to her beguiling performances. Every Loser Needs A Mother is a twisting and turning tale of tainted love that rolls into a wonderfully skittish chorus as the artist bellows out a dizzying array of thoughts from her head: “and I’m done being careful to you, you tore all my time up and you never told the truth”. Full Mood takes us into more serene territory, perhaps the most settled track on the record, allowing more docile tones to take the forefront but still able to present its menacing undertones.
As we get towards the deeper cuts, you can feel the emotional exhaustion that has taken its toll on Chadwick, and can’t help but feel distressed for her. I Was Much Better At Being Young Than You is a heartfelt tale of youth and confusion and a lust for different times, whereas When You’re Sleeping sees layered vocals changing the atmosphere up, creating something different and distinct as the singer tries to figure out what to do next. The record ends on Will the Lord Hold My Hand, an emotional plea for help and guidance.
Me and Ennui are Friends, Baby is a stunningly honest and heartbreaking record of an artist suffering. Chadwick bravely and unashamedly invites the listener into her difficult world using just the piano, her vocals, and skill with words to portray her emotional turmoil. It can be a difficult listen hearing someone in so much pain, but the art that has come out of this is mesmerising.