“A Reminder” by Gillian Rae Perry

Gillian Rae Perry’s “A Reminder” transcends music–it’s a whole sonic experience. Reveling in the intro of this song feels meditative. Birds are chirping, distant vocals are echoing, and wind instruments are resonating. The vocalist comes in gently, in a manner that doesn’t interrupt or hinder the soundscape, but layers something newly beautiful on top. She whispers, “People like you / People love you / You’re not broken.” These first few lyrics are equally informative and mysterious. There’s a forlorn yet encouraging feeling to them. Is the speaker uplifting someone? Or are they jealous of them? Either way, the accompaniment supports the melancholy mood with great accuracy.

Listening a bit further reveals a few more genius details. The lyrical structure remains the same for much of the first half of the song, meaning that these phrases get repeated often. These words fall on the ears of people who have felt unworthy, anxious, and insecure. The message may be simple, but the emotional impact of hearing something often ignored, but necessary and true is immense.

In a musical sense, this piece is a bit amorphous. The tempo is slow, and there is no indicator of the beat most of the time, so the chord changes and vocals feel very untethered. It’s a refreshing departure from the strict regularity of most music. Instead of an uncompromising verse-chorus structure, we get a few sections that are distinct but don’t necessarily need a definition. Instead of a drumset telling us where every sound is meant to happen, we have pianos, wind instruments, and background vocals flowing into one another, uninhibited. This song takes traditional pop songwriting and disregards the rules. Here, creativity flourishes and emotional gratification doesn’t need guidelines to be achieved.

The best part of this song by far is the very end, at which point the singer turns the phrases around to point at herself: “People like me / People love me.” This adjustment is incredibly moving and clever. The other instruments fade and we’re left with just the singer’s voice, holding a note sprinkled with overtones. Gillian Rae Perry is not only one of the most creative artists you’ll hear but also one of the most gifted in divining emotions from thin air, with just her voice and a select few words.

Written by Alyce Lindberg





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