Speaking to both memories of the past and hopes for the future, Glasgow-based songwriter Zoe Graham is set to announce her arrival as one of the UK’s most exciting new artists with her forthcoming EP Gradual Move.
Charting a narrative journey through various formative experiences, every song on the record marks a step on the path to overcoming those challenges. “Life changes, blame / guilt, honesty / truth and eventually acceptance and reassurance,” Graham explains. “Each track marks one of these emotions and tells a story of how changes in my life have affected me, and how I have now accepted them as part of the overall story.”
Still only 22 years old, the musician has developed a knack for refining those universal emotions into electronic pop that wears its heavy heart on its sleeve. Lyrically, much of the EP – including its poignant title track – deals with how much of our histories we can hold on to without succumbing to nostalgia entirely.
Most of all, Gradual Move reflects on the moments that have shaped her journey up to now, encompassing both emotional and physical artefacts. From the first track, the titular "Gradual Move", it’s a powerful approach: “Shed a tear for the wood cut down I keep a slice” speaks of how she managed to save two shards of wood from the old porch as a reminder of what’s left behind from a former life. From the shard she kept on the mantelpiece to a bundle of dog hair saved from the childhood pet, the record is a reminder to cherish the things we keep precious even as we march onwards.
It’s also a clarion call to taking a deep breath and remembering that joy still exists in anxious moments, often waiting just around the corner."Sleep Talking" deals with Graham’s experience of falling out of love with an ex-girlfriend, worried that her propensity to talk in her sleep could betray those guilty feelings. The song showcases her knack for elegant, synth-driven melodies that recall some of her favourite artists - notably Christine + the Queens and St. Vincent at their emotional best.
Latest single "Know By Now" features another skyscraping pop chorus with an emotional underbelly, a synth-driven song that would instantly find itself at home in any 80s coming-of-age film. It’s a paean to love and regret: “What I’ve put you through is a misery,” Graham sings, though the melody speaks of nothing but hope.
By the time the EP draws to a close with "Fault Lines", a resolution of sorts has been achieved: the world has regained shape after fearing a break-up would tear it apart. “Didn’t I tell you it would be just fine?” she sings, over a frenetic drum beat and weaving bassline, adrenaline and anxiety still coursing as the narrator reassures herself that the sky isn’t falling after all.
This is Zoe Graham’s story, played out against the ashes of old times, and she tells it across the record’s four songs with grace and charm. After years spent exploring different directions, Gradual Move EP showcases an artist ready to take a huge leap forward.