Listening to a Weyes Blood track feels like an innately physical experience. Hence the immersive superpower of Natalie Laura Mering’s best work, which has always lied in the ability to induce a trance. On 2019’s Titanic Rising, Mering searched for a moment’s peace amid global chaos. On her newest single ‘It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody’, it’s clear this is a struggle she’s still navigating, this time with even more blistering honesty. On each previous record, innovative production and storytelling has made way for some delightfully unexpected choices. In an age where many producers are more focused on creating the next viral TikTok audio, it is refreshing that artists like Mering are still committed to creating fully complete and realised art. Any given snippet of a Weyes Blood track will capture only a fraction of its full impact, conveying none of the climax that builds towards it or where the story might progress from there.
The idiosyncratic nature of Mering’s storytelling is part of what makes it so rewarding to revisit. The single is both familiar and distant, warm and hollow, haunting and yet somehow still offers some comfort for the listener who sticks around. Mering has fed into this dichotomy of contradictions, once describing herself as a ‘nostalgic futurist’. “Sitting at this party wondering if anyone knows me, really sees who I am” the track opens, putting words to the internal monologue that many will at some point feel, sitting on the sidelines of a party nursing the uncomfortable sensation of not belonging there. String arrangements cloud the confession, in a murky curtain both ethereal and melancholic. ‘‘Living in an age of changes, we’ve all become strangers even to ourselves’, she observes. Weyes Blood is one of many prolific artists concerned with our collective loneliness in the digital age- both The 1975 and WILLOW have recently put out records that delve into the wider social impacts of a world online. Exploring the complex link between the comfort of technology and inherent mass isolation that it brings about, Mering seeks comfort, or at least clarity, in the knowledge that her pain has its roots in a faulty system rather than some inexplicable internal vessel.
‘It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody’ begins to come into its own as a standout Weyes Blood track when the tinkering piano accompanies the final chorus, raising the moment of profession to glorious new heights, while she insists like a tortured preacher, “it’s not just me, it’s not just me” time and again. Such is the obsessive repetition that we begin to question who she is trying to convince. An affirming acknowledgment of shared experience changes subtly to reveal the underlying desperation, and Mering is all the more relatable for it. She taps into the widespread but unspoken desperation to believe that we are not alone, that surely other people must be insecure behind their curated internet personas. All of a sudden, we are no longer a sympathetic observer of a stranger’s plight- we are that person. Such is the mastery of Mering’s nuanced songwriting in its way of appearing straightforward on the surface yet meticulously constructed and quietly layered underneath. In the video, Mering mouths the lyrics while striking Instagrammable poses and flashing a movie-star grin, showing the creepy dissonance between commitment to performance and desire to be free of it.
Across her past discography, Mering has sounded at times like a Godly storyteller dispelling legend over the ethereal instrumentation. Here, she seems aware of the mythic persona that comes about in the imagination of a Weyes Blood listener. The single’s cover is a brushstroke painting in which a holy golden glow emanates across her chest, while she dispels lines that sound like Biblical commandments, like “Mercy is the only cure for being so lonely”. Yet, true to the idiosyncrasy integral to her work, Mering subverts the ideal of herself as a grand commander, deconstructing the image as quickly as she presents it to us. While the signature grandness remains, her lyrics have never been more vulnerable and desperate- in other words, she’s never sounded more human.
Image “Weyes Blood 04/04/2019 #5” by jus10h is licensed under CC BY 2.0.