Sometimes it takes years for someone to find their calling. For others, they know from the start what they are suppose to do, but are not able to succeed on the first, second, or even third attempts. For Oxford, UK musician Esther Joy Lane, she long knew music was her path. However, that path didn’t always lead to the expected destination. For instance, at the age of 14, she and her friend took their turn at singing songs, but it wasn’t her natural calling, so naturally she turned to rap. That lasted a year, and her rap career ended as quickly as it started.
With no formal training or foundation, Lane set aside her musical aspirations. For five years, she traveled to new cities and towns to find inspiration and questioning everything in sight. Until one day, a discovery would change her life and help her return to the path she and her childhood friend had originally set out. That discovery – GarageBand, which allowed her to experiment with songs, tones, and textures. And with this software, she found her sound, and she found her voice.
Now 23-years old and having played and written music for roughly three years, Esther Joy Lane is armed with an electric guitar, a keyboard, a synthesizer, and a computer. This combination of sounds plus Lane’s maturity has resulted in music that is absolutely stunning. More accurately, it is beautiful, enthralling, and mind-blowing. From all the music I have been exposed to, Lane’s music is one of those rarities – music that has bowled me over from the first note to the very last.
Her music has the depth and haunting elegance of Daughter and another Hidden Gem, Violent Mae; the hypnotic beats and rhythms of Grimes; and the deep, profound yet brittle vocals of Julia Catherine Parr of the former Black City Lights. Her songwriting is touching and personal, often reflecting on her own growth as an individual (“Welcome Back”, “Clean Blue”, “For The Better”) to saluting her heroes, such as on “Poets” which is a tribute to the late, great Robin Williams.
“Poets” is a really deep song for me. It’s the first track I put out on my SoundcCoud and has been so significant in bringing me to where I am, personally, now. Robin Williams has been an uber-hero in my life. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times the Hook VHS was played in our household. It was such a tragedy when this world lost him, but more so for both Robin and his family (and) I really hope that it has once again raised the point of how very seriously we need to take mental illness. For me, it must have been literally a couple of weeks or so before his death that I was watching Dead Poets Society and it got me so bad – “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may” and all that. I guess I wrote “Poets” as a response. The lyrics are all about “seizing the day”, do whatever you want to do – just please do it. Hearing the sad news those weeks later, I wanted to post the song as a tribute – so I did.
But there is also mystery and fantasy in her songs. “Travelling Light”, which is her latest single, is a hypnotic, dark wave track that describes the possibilities of finding true love. “Lie”, which comes closest to echoing the lush intimacy of Daughter, conversely speaks of heartbreak and pain. The minimalist approach brings out the beauty in the song while allowing Lane’s deep, powerful vocals to stand out.
While much has changed in her life, some old habits are hard to break, as Lane still has no plans to record an album anytime soon. Instead, she’s going to live each day and each moment, releasing new material as she sees fit. She won’t be guided by deadlines, but instead she’ll be following the one thing that has been true to her all these years – her heart.
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