Few artists today can consistently and simultaneously devastate and challenge listeners. These artists’ stories elicit such strong emotions that after the songs end you need to collect yourself. PJ Harvey, Angel Olsen, Feist, Sharon Van Etten, TORRES, and Julien Baker are just some of the examples. Miya Folick is another one. While she has yet to achieve the fame of her songwriting colleagues, stardom awaits her. Since learning about her after she released “Talking with Strangers”, we’ve predicted big things for Folick, listing her as one of our Artists to Watch in 2016 and again in 2017. We might have to add her again in 2018 because her sophomore EP, Give It To Me, is one of the most incredible moments of the year. It is a massive statement from a young artist on the verge of a major breakthrough.
The five-song, 21-minute record is relentless in its emotional fury. It is intense yet breathtaking, gripping yet gorgeous, and an unforgettable experience. The EP begins with a bang when the slow-building anthem “Trouble Adjusting” roars through the speakers. The song is a reminder that rock ‘n roll is not dead, as Folick delivers a gritty alt-rock in the mould of Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette. Her voice shreds through the layers of searing guitars, throbbing bass, and crumbling percussion, sharing to the world her deepest struggles. There is, however, hope in what she has to say, telling us we’re not alone in trying to overcome life’s mundane routines and its constant criticisms. But Folick shows the best way to tell everyone to go fuck themselves is to persevere and succeed.
“Aging” further reveals the Los Angeles-based artist’s brilliant storytelling. With a raging ’70s rock approach, Folick becomes a mix of Chrissie Hynde, Christine McVie, and St. Vincent. Her voice is a siren, grabbing our attention at the start with its lushness, then crushing our souls as it turns into a piercing wail. Through the vocal transformation, she tells the story of an older woman and her relationship with a younger man. In the process, she loses everything, including her sanity. It’s a marvelous piece of songwriting which should be put on stage.
Things slow down with the beautiful, introspective ballad “Let’s Pretend”. Similar to “Trouble Adjusting”, Folick reveals her most secret feelings and thoughts. This time, it’s the uncertainty that comes with getting older and what she is supposed to be and become. As the steel guitar and organ lightly tremble in the background, Folick delivers some of the most moving lyrics of the year:
“Put on a shirt and tie my hair
Let’s pretend that I’m certain
Exactly what I’m suppose to be doing here
Sign my name on the page
Sign my name on the page
How do I know I’m anyone?
How do I know I’m anywhere?”
Even when Folick covers a song, she turns the original into one of her own brilliant gems, which is what she does with Joni Mitchell’s classic, “Woodstock”. She channels the great Canadian singer-songwriter throughout the song, particularly when she pierces certain notes. Folick puts her own distinctive spin on it by turning the track into a haunting orchestration of spellbinding cinema. From the husky whisper of the low notes when she first mentions getting “back to the garden” to the final notes that reach celestial heights, Folick takes you back to Max Yasgur’s farm:
“We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.”
As great as “Woodstock” is, Folick’s grand masterpiece is the EP’s title track. “Give It To Me” is powerful and tender, heartbreaking and gorgeous. Folick brings us along as she tells about someone who influenced her life. Mother, father, or lover – their identity is unknown – but the emotion in her voice is beyond devastating. Her weeping electric guitar further accentuates the song’s forceful nature. “Give It To Me” is not, however, simply a stunner. This emotional heart attack is one of the best songs of the year, eminiscent of the grand scope of Angel Olsen’s and Sharon Van Etten’s most captivating songs:
“I took my finger
And I placed it in your hand
And I filled my cup up
With liquid of your glance
I want you to give me
One more chance
I want you to give it to me.”
We’ll say it one more time: Miya Folick will be an indie superstar because she is a rare breed in today’s world. She is an immensely gifted musician with a remarkable voice, but her emotionally charged and powerful songwriting is what separates her from her peers. Give It To Me‘s five songs are but a microcosm of her talents and achievements, as she’s been releasing challenging music for nearly five years. It’s now time for the rest of the world to discover and celebrate one of music’s greatest hidden talents.
Give It To Me is out now via Terrible Records. It is available for purchase on Bandcamp or stream it on Spotify. If you have time, review her full catalogue because songs like “God Is A Woman”, “Pet Body”, and “Oceans” will blow you away. Folick has a handful of gigs coming up, including a show in Chicago on November 7th. Dates and information are available here.
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