PHOTO CREDIT: @montanalowery
The track, Boy, is available via:
Soul; Funk; Pop
2nd November, 2018
IN the New Year…
PHOTO CREDIT: Lee Dobsob
I am going to move away from reviews and written interviews and focus more on the audio/radio side of things. I am rounding off the last of my submissions for this year and moving away from this type of review. It is not because of a lack of interest but I have found myself drawn more to older music and what came before in terms of fascination; something in the brain that is drawing me more to classic sounds rather than the new. Before I do step aside; I get to look at an artist that brings a few points to mind. Beth Macari is someone who makes me wonder whether there is an upturn and development in terms of Pop; artists who create some sense of mystery and intrigue; major festivals and gigs that can add so much to an artist’s work; varying work between releases and keeping things fresh – I will end by looking at Macari’s work and where she might head next year. I have complained because Pop has become too insular and inward and there is a lack of fun. One of the reasons why I feel older music holds more relevance and interest is because you get that emotional spectrum and strength. It is not the case that all popular artists are moody and write about their heartbreak but I am finding too many (artists) who are being too introspective and emotionally fraught. Beth Macari is someone who writes from the heart and is no stranger to being let down – that sounds bad but her experiences are the same as all of us. I know it is tempting to write from the soul and be honest but if you are sticking with the same thing all the time then it becomes rather boring. When the new breed came through – such as Sigrid and Billie Eilish – we were promised something fascinating, mature and exceptional but, largely, other artists and genres have taken more of a spotlight. I am more drawn to Hip-Hop and other genres at the moment but I feel something will change soon.
Macari is someone who is not reserved in terms of her sound and can switch between Pop, Soul and other sounds. One of the things I am noticing about modern Pop is the splicing of other genres. It is always impressive seeing artists who can switch and mix their sounds but, more often than not, these experimentations provide little longevity and memorability. It is hard making an impression when there are so many artists around all competing; all trying their own thing and trying to gain ground. Macari is someone who has been in the music business a little while and is keen to do something fresh with every song. What I hope, for 2019, is more follow Macari and what she is doing. You have the more emotional and revealing songs and the spirited, rousing sounds. Rather than do the same thing all the time, you have an artist who can adapt and alternate when the mood calls for it. One of the problems with the mainstream at the moment is you either get too much moodiness, depression and anxiety or there is the more uplifting sounds that have very little substance. If we are going to remember artists years and decades from now, we need to urge something more substantial and detailed. I am hearing a lot of empty songs and predictable moments; something rather ordinary that does not remain in the mind. When you listen to Beth Macari, you notice something more personal, deep and interesting working away. I am not sure whether we will be humming Boy decades from now but, paired against what is happening in the mainstream, there is a lot more colour and memorability. This is important because we are going to remember those who showed a bit more bravery and variation in their music. I have every hope that Macari will keep producing this kind of eclectic and bold music because, it seems, it is really striking a chord.
PHOTO CREDIT: Rhiannon Banks Photography
I will talk about acclaim and those backing her work but it seems like there is a bit of mystery regarding Macari. Maybe it is brevity in the social media age but there are few artists giving a lot away. I suppose interviews are the way of finding out more but it seems the music is there to do the talking. I have covered this before but it appears very few artists are putting out full biographies. It would be cool to know where they are heading and where they came from. I would like to know where Macari came from in a musical sense and which artists inspired her growing up. If I was going into music, I would have a bit about which musicians are my favourite and albums that compel me. I would add in details and facts; some rare insights and do a bit of a full-on piece. There are some who do this but, largely, social media pages have a few lines of basic information and that is all. Maybe the listener does not need to know too much but journalists need that information so they can get to grips with artists and what they are all about. Perhaps giving a lot of information directs how we view the music and what we take from it but I feel like there is little revelation given by artists. Macari is someone who appeals and has that incredible sound and I am interested to know how her career started. This lack of obvious reveal provides some mystery and, I guess, it focuses our mind on the music alone. Perhaps social media, and the way we use it, is a way of talking about ourselves. Macari reveals what she is up to and her latest news but what about her early life? The seed would have been planted early in life and I am curious which artist or album spiked that interest. I can tell you my story and when music came to me and, when you look at a new artist, it is always handy having a bit of background.
PHOTO CREDIT: Rhiannon Banks Photography
In the case of Macari; I feel we get a lot of information through the music and maybe holding something in reserve means there is enigma. I have interviewed her before and got a sense of who she is and where she has come from and there will be many out there who want to know more about her. Unless there is a radio or print interview; few of us will ever get a real sense of what an artist is about and what their history is. Maybe, in 2019, as more material comes to light, we will get something fleshed from Macari but it is nice, for now, having a bit of mystique – we need to fill gaps and use the music to paint pictures. It is a bit of a tough thing to call. On the one hand, you can give a lot of information and background and that will give us a distinct image. If you let the music guide our mind then we will get another impression. I am a fan of those who put some biography together but, what I can glean from Macari’s biography is that her music has struck a chord and been backed by Gaby Roslin. Championed on BBC London and BBC Radio 2; you sense a certain vibe and sound from Macari. There is that maturity and depth but that is not to say her music lacks youthfulness and the ‘cool’ that is required from stations like BBC Radio 1. I can get a view of how her music is being taken to heart but what of her influences and favourites? Which musicians compelled her to get into the industry and write her own music? I wonder if that revelation means we think of that artist too keenly and it distorts our viewpoint. Maybe the social media age means we are providing little detail but, given the fact Macari regularly updates her pages, you can forgive the lack of biography.
Macari has followed her debut single, Clone, with Boy and you can feel a change and evolution. The former was a more emotive and heartbreaking offering whilst Boy has that fizz and determination. Not only are the early offerings turning head and capturing ears; the fact Macari has appeared at major U.K. festivals alongside Melanie C, Jessie Ware and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds means there is that experience and stage presence. She has learned a lot from the artists she has performed alongside and that will be brought to new music. It is hard getting big tours and prominent stage time so early in your career but Beth Macari has achieved this already. It might be a little while before she headlines but I can see that coming. You can tell from her music that she means business and has the confidence to take her sounds around the world. Right now, she is building her U.K. presence but the Newcastle-born star has accomplished a lot so far and made some impressive moves. I will end by looking at her movements and plans for next year but I am amazed she has had this big exposure already. Maybe that sounds insulting but I have heard of few artists who have supported and played alongside artists as big as Macari has so soon. This means the music is resonating and connecting with people – a guide for those who are coming into the industry. I know every artist wants to tour and attack the big stages but they have to wait a long while for that to be realised. Macari has already had this sort of acclaim and experience and this will work wonders for her future music. If you can get onto a big stage and play alongside some great artists then you can learn directly from them and get a chance to play your material to a large audience. The confidence that comes from those times means the mind will be opened and the songwriting ambitions grow.
It is always vital to keep changing between releases and not keep rehashing things. I find modern artists, largely, do not have the mobility and eclectic nature one might hope for. Mainstream artists fall into this trap but the very best are able to have their own identity and be able to create a range of different songs and themes. I am one who likes artists who have colour and diversity but I can understand the importance of consistency and focus. Many feel getting too wayward and switching between genres means we will not get a sense of who they are and it is harder for the music to remain in the mind. If you have an artist who is changing and pushing things, is that going to be as memorable as something more consistent and familiar? One of my main issues with modern music is the rather downbeat and samey. There is nothing wrong with being emotional and true but there is a real danger of alienating listeners and bringing the mood down if you keep producing this. Macari is someone who understands this and does not follow a lot of her peers. Rather than accusation, blame and a lot of anxiety; we have a chance to see her in a more positive state and backed by a lot of energy. I am not sure where she will head next but I am excited regarding the possibilities. If you do have variation and a spread of sounds then it means you can appeal to a wider audience and grow a larger fanbase. Maybe the odd song will not engage you but, before you know it, there is one that will get into the mind. I will move on in a minute but I wanted to talk about location and artists who are exploring the North.
So many artists locate to London because that is where all the business is and a lot of the bigger venues are down here. I find this saturation and busy build-up can make it tough for any new artist that is moving to London. How do they manage to make an impact if there are so many others going for the same prize?! It is a tough industry and I can see the appeal of moving to London. Apart from the expense and crowded streets, there are those venues you can play at and plenty of stations that can play your music. It is understandable artists are attracted to this gold and shine but many are ignoring the pull and appeal of the North. Macari was raised in Newcastle and she plays a lot in that part of the world. Many assume radio and the media will overlook them if they are based in the North but I feel social media allows that connection regardless of where you are based. Maybe a lot of the mainstream press outlets are London-focused and big music awards are given, mostly, to artists down South but that will change. What is great about the North is the growth and stability. A lot of the best-loved venues are remaining open and the streets are less crowded. The friendliness is there and you have a different vibe. I have spent time in Manchester and know how strong the music scene is up there. There is a solid media scene and it is possible to get noticed and have your work shared. The same is true of Liverpool and Newcastle and I do not feel you need to move to London. Social media, as I said, is a way of getting your music to the masses and directly connecting with the world. Beth Macari is someone who does not need to spend a load of time in London and can play in the North and get acclaim down here. I know 2019 will be a big year for her and she will continue to grow.
PHOTO CREDIT: Rhiannon Banks Photography
Rousing and skipping strings open Boy. There is something almost Classic about the introduction that suggests we might see something symphonic and grand arriving. A lot of modern Pop/Soul tracks tend to have electronics or a predictable start but Beth Macari subverts that and gives us an elegant and spirited start. When she comes to the microphone, there is something romantic and tender in her heart. She wants the hero to hold her closely and whisper in her ear. You get a picture of the two embracing and that need for togetherness. Maybe the bond has broken or they are coming back – or maybe this is an existing and strong relationship that is being celebrated. Before further explanation is given; you lean into this vocal and the musical combination and get drawn in. There are little aspects of singers like Hannah Reid (London Grammar) in Macari and you have that same grand and tremulous sound. It seems the hero has a secret and Macari wants to share it. Rather than push away a sweetheart and be depressed about a broken relationship; you have this more positive and upward-looking song that seems to revel in the purity of a relationship and what it provides. Syncopation replaces something more linear and slowed and the compositional tone transforms from Classical and romantic to more Pop/Electro-based and intense. Few songwriters shift pace and tone in a song but Boy has a definite sense of movement and progression. It seems like we have moved from the night-time and that sensuality to the light and heat of the new day. The heroine is talking about this faith and belief the boy is the one and this could be something solid. When we get to the chorus, there are bubbling beats and chorusing electronics that have this flame and kick. It goes, again, to another plain and there is something club-focused or beach-based. You can definitely feel something more intense coming through – it is a summer-themes and sounding single released in the autumn.
You cannot accuse Beth Macari or lacking invention and mobility and she is always keen to keep her songs moving and bring the listener along with her. I am not sure who the eponymous hero is but it seems like there has been regret in the past. Perhaps Macari has been let down and disappointed by boyfriends but this seems to be something more special and sustainable. I am one of those people who feels artists get too caught up in romance and something they think is pure and will last. The nature of love songs has changed through the decades and there is less romance and personality. That is not a shot at artists but you get nameless lovers and rushed sentiments rather than something sweeping and focused. Maybe grabbing attention and getting something simple across is what is required but, while you are drawn to the positive vibe and uplift, you are never sure of who the boy is and whether they are serious. The heroine feels like this bond will last but who is this character and is he someone she wants to settle down with? Maybe it is a case of a youthful heart and lust disguising attraction for love but you cannot argue against the belief she has and she is willing to give things a try. Maybe the lyrics are not as deep as you’d imagine but perhaps that anonymity gives the listener the chance to interpret how they feel and get what they need. You are captured by the energy of the song and how it kicks. Our heroine has that passion inside her heart and she wants the hero to stay another night. I am not sure how things ended up and what the outcomes was but these imploring notes and sentiments come from a very real place. Rather than rush or do waste this chance; she wants the man to come over and watch the stars.
I am not certain whether the two ended up together and if they were happy but this initial stage and seduction catches the eye. Boy is a song that seems primed for the mainstream and could easily sit alongside what is out there at the moment. It might take a few listens for the song to be fully absorbed and settle in the brain but it is exciting hearing the song come to life and explode. By the end, you come back to the beginning and investigate the song again. I am interested to see where Macari heads next and whether her next single will have the same sound and energy as Boy. Even though the weather is chillier and the days are shorter; Macari has summoned something that has a summer-time swing and fizzes from the speakers. Even though the hero of Boy is nameless, I get the sense something real will develop and things can last. Macari is an artist who had made some big strides and is not comfortable repeating the same thing time and time again. This is good to see in a modern artist and it means her next release will have many curious ears trained its way. Boy is a song that can lift you when needed but also score and guide any number of situations. It is not often you discover a song that has that nimbleness and can stick in the head.
I have spent a lot of time talking about aspects of her work and her new single, Boy. I have heard her two tracks (so far) and it is interesting seeing where she might head. Given the difference between Clone and Boy; where might see step next and what will another single contain? I can imagine Macari stepping into a more Soul-based territory or doing something similar to Amy Winehouse. Perhaps she will provide something inward-looking and emotional but I feel, as the weather will start to warm up, I guess there is going to be that energy and need to provide something hot. I guess there will be an E.P. but I am not sure when that will arrive. Touring is an important thing and Macari has played some big gigs already. Many artists start on humble foundations and have to wait a long time for their shot and it can be frustrating waiting so long to get a break. Something about Beth Macari has led to this popularity and growth. I think next year will be a big one for her and we will see more material. So far, there have been great reviews and praise from big names in radio. I am hearing a lot of new music and different stuff but finding, more and more, artists are not really as eclectic and bold as they could be. It is difficult stepping out of your comfort zone but the only way you will remain in the memory and remain is doing different things and changing it up when needed. I shall leave things be in a minute but I like what Boy says and how it sounds. It can easily fit into the charts or on radio but it is distinctly the work of Beth Macari. It is not a replication of what everyone else is doing and something rather predictable.
PHOTO CREDIT: Rhiannon Banks Photography
She is an artist that has potential to endure for years and succeed and I am compelled to see where she steps next year. This year has been a busy and successful one and she will bring that into 2019. I have seen many promising artists come out and sound like they could remain but then they lose momentum. Beth Macari is someone who has that spark and strength and I feel she has the width of talent to be able to keep going and stay in the public consciousness. I am not sure how long it will be until she hits the mainstream but we need more of her energy and talent there. I am finding too many rather languid and sad artists making music that is dragged down and easy. There are others who provide something upbeat but it does not linger and there are relatively few that manage to strike a great balance and have genuine class. Macari seems like someone who can join the biggest artists and craft herself as a modern star. Ensure you listen to Boy and get involved with it. It is the end of 2018 now so Macari will wind down and get time to relax but, before then, she has some gigs and is keeping busy. Check out her social media and follow where she heads. She is making a name for herself in the North but there are plenty in London who are backing her work and playing her. It has been an eventful and interesting time for Macari and I am pleased she is providing such quality to the music world. I will keep an eye out for her next year and what she comes out with next. Boy is a sign that suggests Beth Macari is a name you will be reading about...
PHOTO CREDIT: Rhiannon Banks Photography
YEARS from now.
Follow Beth Macari