Bess Atwell

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There is comfort in the familiar. Yet it is precisely when we are most comfortable that we begin to ask questions. Artist Bess Atwell is full of questions: on life, death, love, loss… and how things that at first seem mundane become profound when looked at in a different light.

    “Co-op” is an exquisite work that unfurls like one of those first precious blooms of spring; luscious ripples of guitar surround Atwell’s crystalline vocals (that will undoubtedly draw favourable comparisons to the likes of Marika Hackman and Julia Jacklin). Her lyrics switch between the past and present tense, offering polaroid snapshots of a time where refuge and routine took precedent. It’s a charming vignette of Atwell’s life with her partner; a relationship that provided “some sort of permission to recuperate from family trauma”. It lays the groundwork for the ensuing exploration of what drives us to seek comfort, and what drives us away from it. This is perhaps most evident in her referencing Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway in the line, “It’s the laughter, it’s the plunge”. That scene – where the title character looks out at a peaceful view and is suddenly overwhelmed by dread that something terrible is about to happen – encapsulates what Atwell is trying to understand through her music.

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