Do you remember the first time you heard the voice of a singer where it totally consumed you? Do you remember that feeling that grabbed you? You may not have experienced it yet, or you may have experienced it a few times. It doesn’t matter how many times, but when you find someone who’s voice just grips you completely and their words also have a hold on you, you don’t let it go. You can’t let it go. They don’t let you go. It’s such a beautiful and vulnerable feeling, and that is why I can safely say that Jehnny Beth has one of the most hypnotising voices I have ever heard. Yesterday her debut solo record came out. I’ve not read anyone else’s take on the record, and I hope no one has compared it to the previous records with Savages because this is totally different. This is something I have never ever heard before, and my god it is nothing short of beautiful and poetic honesty.
To Love Is To Live is the name of the record, and it’s a pretty solid mantra to have. The record explores so much around lust, love, sex, intimacy, innocence and decadence. The things most would shy away from, Jehnny confronts it in the most ferocious and wonderful way possible. She has made the record with her partner Johnny Hostile (they have made amazing music in the past together and I urge you to delve into that.) The darkness on this record is so moving, and there is so much hope on the record. Given what we are all going through, we need that hope so badly.
The 11 songs on the record are carefully crafted, and you can hear the sheer dedication on every song. Of course, my favourite right now is her song with Joe from IDLES, titled How Could You but I want to talk about the song Flower first. This song is so sexual in ways you never thought a song could. It is a perfect dedication to a lover, someone who may be far from your reach but there’s that physical side that brings you both together and binds you together. The exploration of sexuality on this song is so vital. The way gender is thrown out of the window (thank god!) and sexuality is explored is just beautiful. For every queer person out there, take and make this song yours. It’s a masterpiece. The trembling in Jehnny’s voice on this really make you connect with the song and put you in her position. If like me you’ve been tuning into her readings from her book, which comes out next month, then you will have heard just how exceptional she is when it comes to describing feelings and thoughts regarding love and relationships, and all forms of intimacy that flow in between. I feel like this record could soundtrack the book.
We Will Sin Together is another glorious masterpiece on the record, and it features the always incredible Stella Mozgawa (one of the best drummers ever) and Romy Madley Croft. It’s the holy trinity of music on this one, and it is such a vulnerable declaration and also offers reassurance that you and the person will head into this together, no matter what. I could say it is one of the highlights on the record, but truth be told, the whole record is a masterpiece and every moment stands out in its own right. Just absolutely perfect. You feel as if with this song, it is just you and Jehnny in the room and she is aiming the song right at you.
What I adore about To Love Is To Live is the production and how raw it sounds. You can hear the care and passion in every single song, and there’s the beautiful raw sound that at times is bold and tall but there are times where the songs are gentle and frail. The balance is beautiful and THAT is how you put out a masterpiece. I honestly don’t feel my words can do this record justice at all. Is anyone else wishing tattoo parlors were open so we could get To Love Is To Live tattooed on them?! I’d get it done in a heartbeat. The Rooms is one of the more tender moments on the record, and Jehnny’s vocals on this are so exposed and so serene. For as long as I’ve loved Savages, I have been in love with Jehnny’s voice, her way with words and all she does. This record fully justifies my love and I absolutely wish I could sit with her, and discuss this record and the way she approaches her art. She’s just out of this world.
There is a strong Punk feel to this record, and the way she is unapologetically herself, unapologetically honest and ferocious on the record just makes you not only fall in love with her even more- but the level of respect just accelerates. I honestly can’t think of a record that has given such a wide range of emotions in a hell of a long time. Heroine is the perfect example of this (and Jehnny, if you see this please know that you truly ARE a heroine.) The romanticism in her words reminds me of Patti Smith to Baudelaire, with hints of Marquis de Sade. There’s this dark poetry on the record that lures you in. I don’t think we are made to get out of it to be honest. Why would you even want to?
How Could You is the loudest song on the record, and it feels like a riot in the ears. Jehnny and Joe’s vocals together is just simply divine. Two of the most powerful and vital vocals in music together, making something that is nothing short of an anthem. My god this is a powerful. I hope, when we can go to gigs together, she brings Joe out at a few shows and does this with him. Can you picture how wild it would be? I hope they make a music video for this, because I reckon it would be a mind-blowing and chaotic piece of art.
For me, this is one of the most incredible records of the decade and one of the most gorgeously put together records I have ever, ever heard. French Countryside shows us another side of Jehnny, and this side is the calming side of dedication and love. The gentle side of love and lust. The whole record oozes intimacy on all levels, and at times lack of it. This is such a heartbreaking song, and you can hear something truly painful in her vocals and that just makes you connect with her so much. I love how Jehnny has this ability to be tough, brave and in your face. But there is another side of her that is so fragile, almost child-like innocence and open. These sides to her are so wonderfully put across on the record, and I honestly cannot put into words how effortless she makes it. Some spend their whole career trying to master it, but Jehnny seems like she always had it in her and unleashed it right away.
The record ends on Human. It is 6 minutes and 2 seconds of important words, that NEED to be heard. It is the perfect way to end the record. The tension is so captivating, and just before we hit the 2-minute mark it smacks you right in the face. This is where she brings everything together and just messes with your head in the best way possible. I’m not going to say too much about this one because I want YOU to listen to it and soak up the song. The whole record oozes power, sensuality, lust, sexuality, decadence and all those glorious experiences that come with it. It’s nothing short of perfect.
Listen to the record in order, take it all in. Let the record take you over. Let it consume every single part of you and beyond. Explore everything and anything, and let this record be your guide.
To Love Is To Live is out right now, and you can pre-order Jehnny’s book here: http://hyperurl.co/CALMJehnnyBeth ffff