Vera Blue has been a staple of the Australian music scene for quite some time now. In her early days on The Voice, she performed under her birth name Celia Pavey, placing her captivating, ethereal vocals front-and-centre with acoustic, folk tunes. After that, we met Vera Blue, her pop rebrand, where she harnessed that ethereal quality and took it to a whole new level. Hold still blows me away with its sparse vocal layering and heavy, yet still not over-bearing, production. In 2017, she released her debut album ‘Perennial’ where she really found her creative footing as an artist. Full of honest, heart-on-her-sleeve tracks, the album described in great detail the pain of losing a long-term partner.
Immediately after, Vera began writing her follow-up record, with the focus of reinvention. But, with the unexpected pandemic and associated lack of security and predictability, her song writing took a new direction. Thus, ‘Mercurial’ was born. Defined as “sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind,” the album depicts her struggles with mental health as she was formally diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Filled with honesty and laced with hope, the record is raw and honest; relatable to anyone who’s struggled similarly.
Alright Now opens the record; atmospheric and hopeful, the track details her healing journey. The production is sparse, yet still not too busy, keeping the lyrics front and centre. “I acknowledge, react and learn to trust the process” she sings. “It’s all good, everybody cries” she sings in the bridge. The track is the epithet of dancing through the pain—a perfect introduction to the record’s themes. Glittery synths introduce Lethal before 80’s influenced drums kick in. This track is reminiscent of Dua Lipa, with it’s fast-paced, vintage pop sound, reimagined in a modern lens. Feel Better continues to draw on the 80s-influnced sounds. “Don’t tell me I’m emotional, as if you’ve never lost control” she sings. “In a quarter life crisis, doing some wild shit, but we don’t care” she sings in each chorus amongst heavily layered vocals as the instrumentation strips back. “That’s what makes us feel better.” The song is groovy and uplifting, embracing spontaneity and letting loose when things get tough; again, dancing through the pain. She strips the production back with ballad The Curse. “I’ve been avoiding you” she opens, singing about avoiding a partner since leaving them. She breaks down her patterns in relationships, how it affects others, comparing it to ‘a curse.’ “I guess it could be worse but fuck it still hurts” she sings. “Shame, we had so much to offer each other.”
Isolated electric guitar opens Heart Still Works as Vera’s vocals creep in. The song is minimal in its production, depicting the feeling of feeling of falling in love. It grows sparser with each chorus as she details learning to accept love again after heartbreak. “Each time I see you I feel something beating. It’s nice to know that my heart still works.” Vera’s isolated vocals introduce Everything is Wonderful before a simple beat and synths enter in the chorus. The song feels anxious; “there’s no time to think of healing. If there is, I don’t know how”. The juxtaposition of the large choruses and minimal verses depict her outer presentation vs inner feelings beautifully, comparing how outwardly she may not express all the noise in her head as she navigates her complicated emotions. Catchy bass and electric guitar support Vera’s vocals Wherever We Go. “This is the best that it’s gonna get” she repeats in each chorus. The drums are driving and forward moving in their sound; the instrumentation chugs along, as she sings about moving through her feelings. Mermaid Avenue is another ballad-style track. “I wish that I knew back then that we would become past tense.” The track details lost potential; “maybe it’s for the better, we only lived there in our dreams” she sings.
Trust Fall opens with finger-picked electric guitar, playing counter-melodically behind her vocals. “I’m afraid to be honest” she sings, as she details her fears and insecurities. Atmospheric synths build up in the choruses, aiding to the emotive power of the lyrics. “I’m trying my best.” Early Lana Del Rey style pad string support Vera’s vocals to begin closing track Red Rose. “You gave me a red rose to show me you love. I gave you a red rose to show you I’m sorry” she sings, juxtaposing the different meaning giving someone a flower can represent. The song is a highlight of the album and shows Vera at her most vulnerable. “You are the reason I look forward to tomorrow” she sings, depicting how a loved one can make you feel okay when life isn’t being too kind to you. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Hopefully every day after that.”
‘Mercurial’ acts as the perfect comfort blanket when times get tough. Sprinkling layers of hope between honest lyricism and captivating production, the record is an excellent commentary on making it through difficult low points and mental health struggles. Between upbeat danceable tracks and heartfelt ballads, the record has a song to resonate with everyone, regardless of where you are with your own healing.
‘Mercurial’ is available now on all streaming platforms – LISTEN HERE
Connect with VERA BLUE
Thanks to Island Records Australia