Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Taylor B-W – Vera Blue, Perennial(2017)
It was July 2017. I had just purchased the new Vera Blue album Perennial on a whim after randomly discovering her single ‘Private’ on YouTube. I didn’t know much about Celia Pavey (wasn’t she a finalist on The Voice??), but, listening to this track, it sounded really edgy and exciting. I hadn’t been excited by the Aussie indie-pop music scene in a while so I thought I would take a chance and give the album a whirl.
To provide more backstory: I wasn’t having a great year so far. I had recently suffered heartbreak from both a long-term relationship and from my family dog passing away, plus I had been going through a major shift in my life after stepping back from tirelessly pursuing an acting career for years. My mental health had reached boiling point. My music career was also on halt – basically, I needed to take a break from the entertainment industry as a whole.
As a result of this shift, my passion and attention had dramatically switched to animal conservation and so in Jan 2017, I began a Certificate IV in zookeeping at Dubbo’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Living in Sydney and having a frequent 6-hour commute each way from Sydney to Dubbo meant I was always looking for music to listen to and keep me company. So I sceptically popped Perennial into my CD player and away I went.
I distinctly remember when I heard the first lines from the opening track, ‘First Week’. Vera’s vocals led the way, softly describing those initial moments after a break-up. I turned up the volume so I could properly consume what I was hearing when, suddenly, a jangly organ BLASTED out and I jumped out of my skin! It was like I was jolted back to life: it was confusing and enriching all at the same time and I was immediately enamoured.
Vera Blue’s music has a way of combining fragility with strength, and I listened to the whole album in one go, her ethereal, crystal voice carrying me through her journey. It’s not just the vocals and songwriting that got me, but the beautiful clashing of electro-pop with folk and R&B, produced by the Mak Brothers – the music is a vortex of fantastical chaos with vulnerability and soul.
The stand out tracks, in my opinion, are ‘Say Goodbye To Your Mother’, ‘Give In’, ‘Private’ and ‘Lady Powers’, although every song resonated with me – it was like Vera was speaking my language, cleansing herself from heartbreak, which was very relatable as I too was mourning the loss of many things in my life, scrambling to make sense of it all. This album represented all the stages of my heartbreak: from sadness to anger, to rebirth.
Perennial helped to rekindle my interest in Australian indie-pop music, but, most of all, it reawakened my own artistic renaissance! Yes, I am now a qualified zookeeper and my passion is still in animal conservation, however, I realised that music is, was, and always had been my first love. For the rest of my life, I want to create and perform music that makes someone feel the same way this album made me feel. Perennial gave me the warm hug I needed, whilst also giving me the encouragement to leave my nest and fly and re-discover myself.
Blending together cool-girl pop sensibilities with a knack for rich alt-R&B notes, Taylor B-W unleashes her new single, ‘Nunchucks’, her first release for 2021. Listen here.