SINGLE REVIEW: susan – ‘hold still’


It’s been a while since I reviewed a release from susan; the last being the evocative and darkly melancholic ‘rose’.

They make electronica but it’s something much more than that. Sounds dart in, sounds are layered in unexpected ways. The result is electronica that is deeply emotional and evocative.

This is very much the case with ‘hold still’ where words and music combine to tell a story; susan explains ‘‘hold still’ is a track written about falling in love with somebody who will never love you back. It is about knowing what you’re feeling is wrong but offering your support if they ever need it. It’s about being pathetic and putting yourself to the side and waiting for somebody who will never wait for you.

‘I wanted to write about this situation from a different perspective, focusing in on the desperate side of wanting someone; so desperate that you’re willing to stop on your path and convince them to choose it too. It never works like that and never will; But you have to feel these things in order to learn from them. Just don’t fall in love with your friends’.

There is so much to fall in love with this song; it’s difficult to know where to start. So let’s start with the vocal. A vocal that is simple – clean and pure – yet so full of emotion, of yearning, of the pain of unrequited love, that it brought tears to my eyes.

The emotion is magnified by the music – a lovingly arranged sometimes sparse electronica and an incredible cello. And yet there are touches, touches of brilliance – a nagging scraping sound that somehow brings the pain, the nagging pain of the situation to life. It is a picture in sound.

The one thing I haven’t mentioned is the words. They are painfully honest and deeply personal. This is a songwriter who is not afraid to put it all on the line, to speak from the heart.

Taking all of these, the whole of it, this is a song that conveys a situation, the pain of that situation, in words, voice and music. The whole being so much more than the parts.

This is perfect and beautiful – both perfectly beautiful and beautifully perfect. It really is as simple as that.

The info

The track was produced with S.G.Cackle (Previous works: Umru and AmaraCTK100), and engineered by Rob Baldock (Little Mix, One Direction).

On the video susan says ‘The music video is a co-directed project with filmmaker Charles Maddocks who worked closely with me to enforce a vision that we both saw was fitting for this track. The video follows a couple through a sequence of scenarios documenting their relationship. The scenarios circulate around being in a car and utilises the metaphor of parking up and stopping to reflect the lyrics of the track about “waiting” and “holding still”. We shot most of the video in the light of the headlights when parked up on the side of the road. We felt this was the rawest way to convey what was going on. This is what happens when you stop to wait for somebody that doesn’t want to be helped. You ignore the warning signs and eventually find yourself stuck. Find yourself Holding Still. Co-directing the visual was so essential for me as we wanted to keep it as raw and honest as possible, leaving the audience to gain their own personal understanding of the events taking place’

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Frank is the website guy for Local Sound Focus. Takes a lot of photos and loves writing about new music.