Fenne Lily – On Hold
In spite of the hype surrounding the Bristol songwriter, Fenne Lily's debut album is a thoroughly unremarkable collection of sadgirl-by-numbers ballads
Much of the early press surrounding Bristol singer-songwriter Fenne Lily has done a couple of things. First, it’s made a point of mentioning how young she is, at twenty. And second, it’s drawn parallels between her and Laura Marling. The combination of the two amounts to quite the claim when you consider that Marling, at the same age, put out her second record, I Speak Because I Can, a quietly profound treatise on the nature of womanhood that earned her comparisons with Joni Mitchell.
There’s nothing quite so impressive to be found on Fenne Lily’s debut LP On Hold, which is a thoroughly unremarkable collection of sadgirl-by-numbers ballads primarily built around her voice and acoustic guitar, although Bristol outfit Champs lend low-key backing throughout.
The reference points are obvious, sometimes mind-numbingly so; Lily claims that More Than You Know was written after she "became obsessed with the guitar sound on Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago", which surely to God would be the one album from the last twenty years that any folky solo musician would want to avoid emulating, given that it’s been ripped off left, right and centre in the decade or so since its release. Her first single, Top to Toe has been streamed well over 20 million times on Spotify and remains the highlight here, tackling the awkward space between love and friendship in a manner that recalls Fiona Apple’s Love Ridden (that’s no small compliment).
There’s nothing to come near it on the rest of On Hold, though; just pale imitations, both of that cut and of the many songwriters who’ve done this kind of navel-gazing much, much better in recent years.
Listen to: Top to Toe, Car Park