The artwork for Beth Million’s latest single is all too familiar. Messy sheets, a plethora of pillows and a dressed-up body tied to the bed. It’s a portrait of everyday life these days, of work and home becoming conflated in a universal conspiracy of confinement. Looking closer at the album art, a nakedness unveils itself. The pillows have abandoned their sleeves and the comforter its cover, everything stands in a state of rawness except for Beth Million. In spite of the white walls that entrap her, she rests resiliently in a manner mirroring her flair for raw performativity. The effect conjures an odd sense of comfort, only magnified by lyrics like “I know you’re scared — sh-t so am I / We’re doing great, you’re doing fine / And when you need to hear it again just press rewind.”
Although the words weren’t penned thinking about the current pandemic, a paratextual warping seems to have turned them into words of comfort for distressing times. The suggestion to “just press rewind” has gained a new dimension at a time where escapism has become a necessity and Beth Million’s lyrics — a sort of inspirational mantra.
“I feel like having my choruses being very repetitive, very un-secretive, being about somebody kind of um … you know, telling me all these things and saying that you’re special, stuff like that, and then end up treating you kind of like dirt at the bottom of your shoe, like hashtag relatable,” Million expressed as she began veering towards singing upon reaching the conclusion of her statement.
Surely it’s easy to grow resentful or annoyed at optimism when the world is screaming the opposite message. The benefits of a message that seeks to uplift becomes sickening noise. But, perhaps that arises from the fact that it is pure noise and despite its best intentions, its simplicity is off-putting. Thus, it lies in the hands of artists like Beth Million who find new ways of composing and arranging the beats of life that are often dismissed into something momentous.
“[My songs] are oftentimes triggered by a thing that happens that I then journal about that I then am like ‘I have too many emotions right now that I can’t even write in full sentences,’” Million said.
In capturing the ever-fleeting and the overlooked at a time where the things we took for granted have been challenged or obliterated, Million exalts the power of the moment, more precisely, of a moment — that which sears your soul and transcends triviality by being etched into a narrative. Regardless of the people involved and the amalgamated amounts of fact and fiction that make up her songs, her decision to form greater narratives out of mere moments lends them a truthful and redolent effect that conjures more emotional oomph than a simple retelling of said moment ever could. In that way, Million finds herself in a beautiful anthropophagic cycle of moment-making through art.
“It’s really about like, just the feeling of being like, this needs to be said aloud, this needs to be said aloud for everyone who needs those words. They’re [the words] saying there are consequences when you are not, you know, the most digestible version of yourself at all times as a woman, you know, and as anyone honestly,” Million said.
Her songs become vehicles of empathetic expression and when she shows discontent, infatuation, regret or nostalgia, it’s not only out of a desire to share her triumphs and struggles — she wants to share those of her listeners too. Through this model, she abolishes spectatorship and presents a new vision of a musical media that finds itself in a constant interplay of meaning-making and moment-manufacturing on behalf of herself and the audience.
“I’m like that person where like we’ll start talking and then I’ll like act like we’re a lot closer than we actually are, but that’s just because I feel like that is the way that I can get myself to be my most authentic self and like the most genuine person that I am in front of my friends, you know what I mean?” Million said. “And I always do like to approach the audience as my friends and as me telling these things, especially because a lot of my music comes from a very vulnerable place and my best friends obviously know where it’s coming from, but like being able to share that with an audience member that doesn’t necessarily know my specific story and seeing them connect with — that is something that’s so important.”
Although the physical venues of audience-creator engagement have been temporarily shut down, the magic of Million’s music lies in that it’s message immediately conjures that relatability and connectivity in and of itself. In capturing the ever-fleeting and posting it on Soundcloud, her insights become readily available to the masses. The message of her latest single, “Rewind,” transcends the typical trappings of a love song by offering a sense of comfort to all during a turbulent time. Her profession that “Money’s low / Time’s tighter / A Regular has become all-nighters” resonates with just about everyone right now, pointing to Beth Million as a rising star with the ability to weave empathy into her sound regardless of the constant cacophony that might be assaulting at this particular moment in time.
Email Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer at [email protected]