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Miya Folick - Premonitions Music Album Reviews

On her gripping and redemptive debut, the Los Angeles singer seems bound for crossover status, with pop anthems that challenge power structures and embrace simple pleasures.

Premonitions, the debut album by unabashed Los Angeles singer Miya Folick, begins with an exquisite apology. Over the pearly synths, gauzy vocal intonations, and grinding cellos of gripping opener “Thingamajig,” Folick takes accountability for her actions and embraces the emotional flux that comes with it—the power of taking responsibility, the powerlessness of what comes next. Amid a cultural movement where unspoken wrongs are finally being aired, only to be met by the half-hearted repentance of systemic corruption and patriarchal nonsense, her sincere plea feels like redemption. “Only you know what to do now,” Folick sings in the haunting final words, relenting control. Premonitions, this introduction declares, is about fighting for the best version of ourselves.

Many of the tunes on Premonitions feel like anthems, battle cries for personal and universal empowerment. This comes, in part, from Folick’s incredible voice—deep and broad and rich, yet capable of soaring to fluttering soprano heights. That prodigious instrument is the shiny glint that first catches your attention, but the writing is arresting, too. It feels intimate but applicable, a successor to the likes of Lorde and Florence Welch. Joined by veteran producers Justin Raisen and Yves Rothman, who have separately made radio hits and esoteric pop, the classically trained singer crafts songs marked by fierce self-awareness and self-control. Her singing and songs recall pop predecessors who paired emotional force with creative trademarks—the elegiac coos of the Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan, the alluring theatricality of David Byrne, the empathic lyricism of Imogen Heap. Both lyrically and vocally, Folick is a trapeze artist, plunging into uncertain, dark depths only to spring to the other side of the divide.

Premonitions speaks of uncomfortable battles. “Deadbody,” an apt theme song for 2018, is an antidote for those who’ve been gaslit for their trauma. A low, ringing piano mimics the final chime of a clock, a musical signifier for time’s up. Drums crowd Folick’s voice, which hovers just above a growl as she details the exploitation of women. Pushing back against hyper-masculine rhetoric, Folick asserts, “My strength lies within my gentleness.” On “Cost Your Love,” her vocals cascade between registers as she illustrates the tempestuous battle for love, not lust masquerading as something more. “I might love myself this time/I might win the fight this time,” she sings. From calling out abusers to offering up her own self-examination, Folick’s music feels urgent in its advocacy of resilience. “Don’t make it easy on me/Don’t let me slide/I’ll force myself to take it/Swallow my pride,” she sings on the title track, drums propelling her as chimes offer cover. Secret delights float through the mix—angelic fingerpicking, oblong slide guitar, spectral cries that echo around the dark.

Folick has coyly dubbed her music “domestic pop,” an attempt to make mundane moments feel significant, even crucial. She transforms physical rituals like shaving her head and bathing into processes meant to wash away the unholiness of the day during “Stock Image.” She makes turning off the phone a new avenue for transcendence on the racing “Freak Out.” An Irish goodbye during “Leave the Party” allows her to escape inside herself. Post-exit, she turns to disco music, a bowl of Cheerios, painting her pinky toes, and even over-tweezing to feel more self-assured. “I want to fill myself with bliss/When I’m alone, I exist,” she howls before horns envelop her. Infectious melodies and luminescent production give these ideas a sense of cathartic danceability.

“We have to speak with grace/We will become the words we say,” Folick sings at the end of “Stop Talking,” a perky and lovingly honest ode to friendships and against noxious boy fixation. This axiom is a core part of Folick’s belief that the way we speak about our memories shapes our present and future. She recently wondered, too, about a world where humanity’s ability to evolve emotionally is our species’ shining hope, not our inventive technological prowess. During closer “What We’ve Made,” Folick envisions this simple utopia, a place where “We make tiny happinesses in each moment.” Time and time again, Premonitions delivers on that promise as Folick shares her inspiring vision of an ennobled world.

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