"February" by Kenzie Webley

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"February" by Kenzie Webley

Review

It's been much more than a year (nearly two in fact) since our last Kenzie Webley review: it was in fact for her debut album ‘All of the Fallen Stars' which she made at 14 Records.

This went down really well & was the culmination of several years' worth of steadily rising esteem: Kenzie was very highly regarded on the local scene & many were looking to see her break out into a wider context.

Momentum is key is such dynamics and in a perfect world we'd have heard more from her in the interim, but this period coincided with her university studies and I'm sure you'll all join me in supporting her decision to dedicate her priorities in that direction for the well-defined time span in question. She is a person of many talents and balancing them all without acting to the detriment of any aspect of her activities must be critical.

In the current music business, the gap is in fact pretty insignificant compared with those between releases of many prominent professionals & now the wait is over with today's sharing of her new single "February".

I don't use the term "new" lightly: this is literally the most recent of her compositions & has blithely skipped over all the ones she has written since the album to force its way to the head of the queue. Such spontaneity and desire to "seize the day" says a lot about her relationship with it, as well as her capacity to communicate her enthusiasm as much by how she does something as what she does.

Consequently she made the song in such a way that she describes it more as a demo. Certainly it hasn't the layered instrumental arrangements of her studio recordings with Matt Waddell, but what it lacks in that aspect is more than made up for in terms of immediacy, intimacy & breaking down of barriers between her & her listeners.

There are increasingly numbers of artists releasing high quality bedroom recordings (Euan Blackman is another) presumably because they share Kenzie's desire not just for a swift turnaround (and a cheaper one) but for the artistic reason outlined above. In comparison to highly polished productions where the sheen can distract you from a moral & emotional deficit in the actual song, wearing one's heart on one's sleeve & demonstrating one's courage in expressing complex & delicate feelings is to me a huge positive.

Kenzie's trademark always has been shining a spotlight on "difficult" subjects: complex emotions, issues without obvious solutions and life situations with paradoxes. She explores these in her songs frequently and isn't afraid to air her own insecurities nor end them without neat, false resolutions.

"February" picks right back up in this respect where we left her & so in one song demonstrates that the pause was just that: in years to come we'll probably not notice it much in hindsight.

Unsurprisingly, Kenzie makes you unpack her deeper meanings for yourself: she feels, it would seem, that being handed the song on a plate will deprive you of the true qualities of engagement.

Though shaped in "heartbreaker" mode, beneath the surface the story is around issues of body shape, people's attitudes to this in themselves & others and consequent eating disorders when the attitudes in regard to oneself become negative.

And that's just the next couple of layers immediately below the surface. As I much prefer using the artist's own words where possible, here is Kenzie's own description of the trip into the heart of "February: "at first delving into getting sucked into unhealthy habits through the belief that it will make you happier and the types of negative things that your mind can convince you of but disguise as being 'good for you'. The song then progresses into realising the toxicity and the pain this way of being causes (much like an unhealthy relationship) but feeling trapped, and how the cycle continues even when you've been trying to get better".

Which certainly lets me off the hook of trying to fully capture the great deal she's trying to say in the song.

Kenzie suggests that she might re-record "February" at a later date but not only am I not too sure what needs adding to the song, I think a more polished studio version might lose some of the organic qualities of this one. I appreciate that at nearly five minutes long, a radio edit might be required, but the essential elements of what she is trying to say are encapsulated in the mood of the recording as well as the overt lyrics. This is a brooding performance in keeping with the season and the sentiments and her instinctive recording nails that. Could it be bettered?

At the moment, I gather from Kenzie that her motivation is to get her music out there again & metrics like airplay and streams do not concern her at this point. This is commendable & understandable, though the velocity involved in the creation & sharing of "February" suggests that making this intense & presumably personal track was a catalyst.

It's great to have her "back" and with such a great track: I certainly do not wish to pile unhelpful expectations upon her while she has other commitments, but I equally definitely welcome each & every new release.

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