The neo-jazz scene in the UK is spawning several exciting artists in the world of indie fusion, and feeo’s announcement of a debut EP promises to be another lively offering from the movement. From a feature on Loraine James’ “Sensual” to live slots with Nilufer Yanya, Westerman and soul legends Shalamar, and a co-sign by Arlo Parks and Matt Maltese, feeo is assembling a formidable entourage of endorsements to her name. Her most recent single, “End Song,” displays a level of craft, charisma, and quirk worthy of her cosigns.
“End Song” fuses alt-pop sensibilities with wonky, off-kilter neo-soul. The drum and bass groove saunters on the line between reggae and trip hop, with the metallic element of the strings provided by feeo herself: “I played bass myself in order to get the jarring metallic twanging that could only be achieved by a total novice.” Above the beat, feeo provides interjections of sparkling vocal harmonies, decorating various spaces in the mix. Her vocal delivery captures the cool, blasé nature of living in the lead-up to the apocalypse, and the performance has the intimacy and cadence of a conversation in a corner booth at a deserted cantina. As the track progresses, the production grows slowly more experimental in nature: glitched samples of harmonies bounced around the space, ambient synth pads intermingling with the beat, and distorted sampled cheers of children all develop a rich sonic fabric in “End Song.” The song climaxes with an expansive synth break, anchored and side-chained by buoyant 808 kicks and fervent drum fills, before ultimately subsiding to a hauntingly dusky quiet storm epilogue.
If the instrumental composition of the record was impressive, then feeo’s lyricism and delivery were ten times so. Written from the perspective of apocalyptic “end-times”, the lyrics are cynical and resigned with regards to the cause of such conditions. Her writing is filled with double entrendres, such as the stanza:
Ever since Eve was roaming ‘round in Eden
Back when knowledge looked like apple flavoured freedom
To grow the mind
To reap the fruit
To raise the ceiling
And so began the chain of ritual feeding
Despite cavalier expressions on the state of the world, feeo displays deft poeticism surrounding the intimacy of attraction and the silver lining of her setting. Delivered in a honeyed tone, the innate qualities of feeo’s voice pull the listener wherever she wishes to take them.
“End Song” seems more fitting for the current moment than ever, with the end of the pandemic and the rapid deterioration of the planet alike hurtling us closer toward endings. But with any luck, music made with this level of nuance and novelty will reward feeo with a fruitful career, a career that will raise the ceiling.