Anyone trying to break into the pop music world will quickly find out that it’s a deceptively challenging endeavor. There’s a sort of paradox where an artist needs to fulfill certain constraints of mainstream aesthetics but somehow still do it in an original way. The London-born singer Bishop Briggs is an example of someone forging her own path through the current pop landscape. Her self-titled EP reflects a young artist coming into her own while firmly establishing a unique spot among the masses.
Bishop Briggs kicks off with “River,” a song that was originally released in January of 2016. We’re immediately introduced to Briggs’ organic sonic aesthetic in the intro with just a simple guitar line, work song-like percussion, and her voice saying, “like a river.” Briggs’ perspective fluctuates throughout the track from being firm and controlling to being submissive, often in the same line. Take for example the lyrics, “shut your mouth and run me like a river.” The range of emotions is a pretty accurate depiction of youth and makes for an interestingly malleable musical viewpoint.
One prevailing production technique on Bishop Briggs is the combination of the aforementioned organic elements with typical trap percussion. This is perhaps best showcased in the song, “The Way I Do,” which from its start combines a soulful vocal sample and finger snaps with a synth bass line. The trap elements fully come to fruition midway through the song, with a more active bass line and the classic manic hi-hat sounds. Briggs sings about the struggle of an unattainable lover who will never know the extent of her feelings. In the pre-chorus she croons, “You will never know this love/ will never know this pain/ never know the way I feel for you.”
Briggs takes out some of her emotional frustration on “Dead Man’s Arms.” With her signature minimal trap and handclap production, she sings about recognizing that perhaps the person she was after is emotionally empty after all. She writes, “That’s you, oh lord/ you got more bones than a graveyard/ it’s true, oh lord/ there’s more love in a dead man’s arms.” Later in the song she goes into a little more detail about this person: “Maybe it’s built of stone/ maybe it’s dark as coal/ used to be a heart, I’m told, but a heart needs blood to love.” The track acts as a follow up to “The Way I Do,” where she seems to be realizing that the problem in the relationship may not be with her but with an emotionally unavailable partner.
Bishop Briggs shows an artist finding her sound and coming to grips with complex emotions that often accompany early adulthood. Briggs exhibits strong vocals and a production aesthetic that is bound to take hold with audiences craving something a little different than the normal pop offering. If Briggs continues to grow musically and leans into her originality, she will undoubtedly have a bright future.
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