Release Date: Nov 13, 2020
Record label: Heavenly
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
England's Katy J Pearson launched her music career in the mid-2010s as half of indie pop duo Ardyn with her brother, Rob Pearson. After creative differences with their London-based label put the brakes on releasing material, they worked up songs outside of the project for Katy to perform solo. Those efforts gained steam when she relocated to Bristol, eventually signing with a different London label, Heavenly Recordings, for her full-length debut.
Much like how Julia Jacklin's first two superlative albums took country-indebted beginnings and enlivened the age-old genre with a new guise for the modern alt-indie fan, so does Katy J Pearson's debut manage to make the oldest sound of musical heartbreak somehow seem, if not fully modern, then at least fairly timeless. There's a Stevie Nicks-esque quality to her vocals on the yearning 'Hey You', while 'Something Real' builds from tender, affective beginnings to an all-out yell for emotional fulfillment; elsewhere, the sparse acoustic balladry of 'Return''s title track allows for Katy's reflective lyrics to cut through ("I've changed like the weather, I've changed for the better…"), while 'Miracle' puts more flesh on the bones - strings and keys coalescing into something tenser and more urgent. Whichever mode she's in, however, Katy manages to find humanity in every moment.
Coming in a neatly packaged 10-track bundle of hope, Return peaks and troughs between indie-pop hooks ("Fix Me Up") and more stripped back intimate moments ("Waiting For The Day"), featuring Pearson's unique twangs of skewed western Americana throughout. Despite being her debut album as a solo artist, its title eludes to a re-entry into the world of music-making. It symbolises closing a chapter on the artist's previous musical career as one half of a project with her brother where their creative instincts were shut down by the pressures of a major label record deal.