by Mia Hughes
The title of Our Heaviness, the new EP from Manchester singer-songwriter Lindsay Munroe, comes from a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:
‘This is what the things can teach us:
Patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that before he can fly.’
The word ‘heaviness’ can mean a lot of things aside from the literal. There’s emotional heaviness, the things that we carry around, that weigh on us. But heaviness could also mean the weight our presence carries, and the impact we make. And then there’s the word ‘our’ – our heaviness: either a heaviness that is shared between individuals, in the relationships between us; or the suggestion that we all, each one of us, carries our own heaviness.
All of these meanings are tangled up in the five songs on Our Heaviness, as Munroe unflinchingly explores everything casting a weight on her own life; that included the decision to leave a conservative church, and a struggling relationship. But more than the EP being about these specific circumstances, it’s about the self-reflection that they force. It’s about building an identity and self-worth on stronger foundations than before.
It’s worth noting that the word ‘ashamed’ is used in three of the five songs (Opening, Easier On You and Split) – this is perhaps the most telling way to illustrate Munroe’s starting point, a place of shame and fear, more than anything of who she is. But the EP sees her building the strength to turn those feelings into something useful, an equally heavy yet now driving force. Split, for example, starts as a hushed, pained reflection on her shame after leaving the church (‘I can’t love you when I’m so ashamed), before building into a crescendo in which her anger is finally palpable and pointed, even as she sings the same words – such is the weight that her distinct and compelling vocals carry. And in Easier On You, a song again about the pain surrounding her relationship with the church, another deeply satisfying catharsis comes even without words, in the form of a long and furious guitar solo outro. The noisy, squealing tone of the guitar just adds to the feeling that it’s the sound of Munroe setting herself free, unconcerned with perfection and neatness.
Attention should be called as well to the record’s production; the samples and ambient noise that Munroe and producer, Chris Hamilton, utilise perfectly underscore the difficult feelings through which the songs tread. This is present most notably on two tracks, Opening and River; at different points, it’s made to feel overwhelming, jarring or foreboding, creating a thread of constant discomfort, an atmosphere to match the songs’ heaviness.
Our Heaviness is indeed a heavy record, and despite the journey it details, there is no neat resolution to be heard. This record is not about ridding oneself of heaviness; it’s about trusting the heaviness, knowing that its presence makes up your own weight. ‘Even a bird has to do that before he can fly.’
Secret Meeting score: 82
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