Felivand has been a staple of the local Brisbane / Meanjin music scene for quite some time now. From her silky smooth vocals, her expert lyricism to her killer basslines and lively, yet reserved production, her music has a way to draw you in and keep you wanting more. This month, she released her much anticipated debut album ‘Ties’, an introspective look at mental health, self-care and harnessing a better understanding of oneself. Experimenting outside of her usual bedroom production, Felivand‘s debut boasts an impressive list of collaborators; Wes SingermanÂ &Â TaydexÂ (Princess Nokia, Kehlani, Anderson Paak),Â Maxwell ByrneÂ (Mallrat, Allday, Cub Sport)Â Ed QuinnÂ (Slum Sociable, Sycco) and Tristan HooglandÂ (Joji, James Blake), to name a few. Combining the best of artists like Kali Uchis, Solange and James Blake, ‘Ties’ offers the perfect slice of neo-soul / alternative pop excellence to act as your comfort blanket through your own internal battles.
Dream-like, somewhat disorderly piano opens Way Out, before the bass and drums kick in. The song is medium paced, matched perfectly with a balcony beer in the afternoon sun. “I’m looking for a way out of my mind. But maybe the way out is inside of me?” she sings in the chorus, acknowledging that no one else can heal you but yourself. The track is as much uplifting as it is, in a way, confronting. “For days I wait for you to call, when it could be me on the other line”. Detailing her daily anxieties, she sings of a turning point; doing her best to take her power back of intrusive thoughts (even if they win sometimes).
A simple beat and jarring synth opens Stolen Seats. Continuing the idea of harnessing a better mindset, the song describes the power of self-perception; what would we think of ourselves if we were looking through the lens of others? “Would I hate myself more or forgive myself for it all?” she sings, toying with the different ways she may be viewed by different people.
“I know that what I think will come my way. A train of thought that used to keep me safe. But what about when my thoughts start to ache? Will I be okay leaning into open space?”
She sings in the bridge as the production becomes more bare; more vulnerable.
“You looked at me with hooded eyes. You took his word over mine. Didn’t look when you crossed the line. That’s when your colours showed.“ she opens in Not My Way, a track which details somebody who twists stories to paint themselves in the best light. “It’s not my story to tell” she continues, realising she can’t control someone else’s narrative or perception of her. “Holding on to pain, that is not my way” she repeats in the chorus, acknowledging that regardless of how a situation ends, the healthiest thing you can do is let go. “So why does all this pain always come my way?”.
Disjointed synths play through Safe Here, a brief interlude as she repeats the words “I’m safe here” before Butterfly Wings begins. Detailing how she often feels guided or protected by a higher power, but sometimes feels completely defeated by what life throws her way. The track depicts when she feels somewhere in between; the sonic equivalent to ‘it is what it is’. Sometimes you’ve just got to take things day by day. “It feels all the pieces have their own place
So I just make peace with the ones that donâ€™t break“. Sonically, the track is more lively and upbeat than the album’s preceding tracks. The steady, consistent drumbeat and relaxed bassline rarely vary, giving the idea of simply moving through the motions.
Where Were You is a standout of the album, describing a loved one who had been distant during a low point. Her vocal delivery is less reserved and relaxed than previous tracks. From venting her frustrations in the second verse to her emotive plea in the chorus, a different side of the artists shows, demonstrating her feelings in the moment, rather than through the lens of hindsight. Despite the heavy nature of the lyrics and the emotional context, the track is still lively; an excellent song to boogie through the pain until you come out on the other side.
Big Little flips this idea on its’ head. Now Felivand is on the other side, doing her best to support a loved one through a tough time. “I’ll make sure that I will be right here until the big feels little”. Her vocal delivery is soft and conversational, like she’s talking directly to the friend in question. “I guess I’ve felt how you’re doing.” she sings. Bright synths support the chorus melody, aiding the hopeful message of the song. Ripple Effect opens with a smooth, relaxed beat and an overall laid-back feel. “You’ve got shit to deal with. I am not the one to heal it. Neither is the girl you’re seeing. She sees birds through the glass ceiling”. Felivand passes on the notion that you can only heal yourself and is much as it’s true for yourself, it’s also true for others; you’re not responsible for anyone else’s healing. The glass ceiling analogy alludes to the gendered nature of feeling responsible to heal others, with this song recognising the issues with that and learning to set boundaries, a repeat theme throughout the album.
Lately progresses from the themes of the rest of the album, projecting a more retrospective message, rather than introspective. “There’s something good in the ordinary life”. “My season of people pleasing is on the way out” she sings in the bridge, a powerful moment of understanding her worth and boundaries. Disco style synths taken straight from the 80s open My Cool as she sings the opening lines “Silent warfare going on in my head, won’t forget what you said“. “I know one day it will better me but right now it’s just making me lose my cool”. She deconstructs the way she deals with life’s struggles, particularly in the moments before healing when wounds are fresh; the overthinking stage. “It’s not the first time I’ve given nothing to myself. Having the worst time but I won’t let it test my cool”.
Ride Home is slower and more sombre than the rest of the record. A beautiful slow-burner, it details relationships changing and shifting. “Will I always be your ride home?” she asks, acknowledging lifelong connections, even if the closeness and definition of the relationship changes. “Things hurt until they don’t no more” she sings, addressing that sometimes time is the only thing you need to heal. Seasons closes the album, a minute and a half outro tying up the albums themes. “Seasons change, people break, we don’t say what we need to say more than once”.
‘Ties’ is an expertly crafted look at mental health, transitioning through life stages and learning how to cope with issues with a healthy mindset. Felivand places all of her learned lessons into neatly packaged soulful bangers to keep you grooving while you learn and grow. ‘Ties’ teaches you self-reliance through funky basslines and self-care through vintage synthesizers; a timeless collection of songs with relevant lyrics. She’s harnessed her sound and created a beautiful collection of songs so textured and detailed, you find something new with every listen.
‘Ties’ is available now on all streaming platforms. Listen HERE.
FELIVAND AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
Friday August 19 â€“ Woolly Mammoth, Meanjin/Brisbane – TIX HERE
Saturday August 27 â€“ Maryâ€™s Underground, Eora/Sydney – TIX HERE
Friday September 2 â€“ Northcote Social Club, Naarm/Melbourne – TIX HERE
With thanks to Thinking Loud