Pop’s ‘nicest sad girl,’ Aislin Evans, is back this week with the stunning ballad, Cruel. The follow up to 2017’s Feel About You, the single effortlessly showcases one of the most significant talents to come out of the UK pop industry in the last twenty years.
Evans has admitted to suffering ‘major anxiety’ contemplating the followup to Feel About You. A massive streaming hit, the single’s success temporarily forced the talented young singer to press pause on her career.
“The pressure from the industry, but also that I put on myself, was really paralysing. I ended up doing nothing for a year, two years, three years” she says of the experience.
The time didn’t go entirely to waste, however, as Evans used the break to move house, find a job, break up with a partner, and then subsequently find a new one.
And now, four years older and wiser, the singer is back, with a single that not only underlines the massive potential she demonstrated on her two previous singles but also offers a thrilling glimpse of her future direction.
Cruel is built around an irresistible hook and Evans manages to squeeze every last ounce of drama and emotion out of it.
“Do I really love you or do I just want to guard against the loneliness at night” she sings, before adding ruefully ‘I wish I could rewind.’
The singer has a knack of making the veiled, invisible world of the emotions visible, and Cruel is a perfect example of this.
The lyrics describes the death throes of a relationship. Evans has described the separation as ‘the opposite of dramatic,’ nonetheless, on Cruel she has masterfully depicted the uncomfortable jumble of thoughts, feelings and emotions that accompany the final days of a relationship which is going nowhere.
“It’s about a relationship that’s fizzling out,” Evans told The Line of Best Fit recently. “It comes to the point where you don’t want to break up and hurt them, but you’re probably hurting them more by staying and not loving them well enough”.
The subject matter may be downbeat, but the song itself is not mawkish in the least. Cruel may begins mournfully, yet it quickly builds into something much more emotionally complex and rousing, with staccato vocal bursts building tension while the lush orchestration adds drama.
Evans has often been compared to Kate Bush and fittingly, Cruel climaxes with a series of Kate Bush-esque vocal riffs. This, together with the soaring orchestration, gives the end of the song an oddly sweet and uplifting feel. It’s as if a massive weight has suddenly been lifted from the singer’s shoulders, and, just like a bird, she is now soaring.
Cruel is the result of a collaboration between the artist and her friend and producer, Kaity Rae. Evans has in the past bemoaned the fact that she has predominantly worked with ‘thirty five year old men’ and Cruel gives an impressive demonstration of what can be done when the guys take a back seat.
If Aislin Evans’s Cruel is the result of a four year break from the music industry, then perhaps the singer needs to take an even longer break next time. The song finds the young singer in inspired form, on a track whose irresistible melodies will quickly worm their way into your head and your heart.
Make no mistake, Cruel marks the return of one of the UK’s most important young talents. Yep, pop’s nicest sad girl has got her mojo back, and the world is all the better for it.
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