Paola Bennet is a New York-based folk pop artist who first hit our radar back in March through her single In This Body. At the time Jane described it as “haunting” and found beauty in its simplicity. The track sits at the heart of Paola’s new EP Maybe The Light.
By Graeme Smith
Before In This Body sit two equally haunting tracks. The EP opens with My Mother Says, a meditation on apathy. Starting as sluggish as its subject, it explodes halfway through into a lively anthemic chorus that briefly shrugs off the track’s lethargy. It’s clear from the outset that Paola puts a lot of thought into her music, as well as a lot of feeling.
Up next is Anthea which opens with a strummed acoustic guitar and a classic folk-pop feel. Paola’s vocals are laid bare and are all the better for it. In Anthea they soar like something light that has been caught by a breeze even while the sense of emotion remains heavy.
Paola refers to herself as a “reformed ‘sad girl'” and after a couple of tracks the label starts to make sense. Whereas contemporaries like Phoebe Bridgers tell stories that start downbeat and end much the same way, there is a sense of transformation in Paola’s work. Her music presents the light and dark, trying to end on a bright note even as the realities of life continue to present a counterweight.
In The Body is a prime example. It’s about dealing with chronic illness which, of course, must come with a feeling of being ground down. Yet the track feels cathartic. It’s an understated outpouring of frustration, leaving behind something close to hope, or at the very least a shift of focus.
The track gives way to the delicate plucked waltz of Astronaut. The opening arrangement is suitably sparse, emulating the vacuum of space. The chorus hits light a solar flare, lighting up the audio borealis-like while the poetic lyrics add colour and imagery.
It starts the theme of new love which is carried into the EP’s closer, 7:23am. There is an immediate sense of intimacy that comes from its lightly strummed strings. Paola’s voice starts distant but their weight, along with the veracity of the guitar playing grows, mirroring the shaky confidence described in the lyrics. A false dawn comes after two minutes and things rally for the emotive finish this EP deserves.
Paola Bennet is an under-rated talent that I’m only just discovering myself. I’m really liking what I hear and I hope you do too. Check out Maybe The Light below.