Sarah Walk’s new single ‘Unravel’ released on 8th July may be three minutes of mellow-indie, but it takes the American only eighteen seconds and one devastating line to make her point. Taking aim at men “who grew up with no consequences”, the track confronts the subjugation of women in a male-dominated industry. Too often, Walk laments, women are not afforded the opportunity to express the narrative of their lives outside of romantic spheres.
It shouldn’t be the job of a queer American musician to “fix this mess”, but here we are. Walk’s strength at first comes from the sharp quiet in her demolition of toxic masculinity and privilege. Were you to stumble into a live performance, you could easily mistake it for spoken word. Short sentences laced with sarcasm require little musical accompaniment to emphasise their feeling; it’s a track which bites rather than barks. Venomous lines such as “no one likes an angry woman” are underlined by a pulsing bass line and steady keys, interfering only to provide a sense of rhythm. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, there’s a mocking acidity to Walk’s tone. There’s certainly a resonance, therein, with fellow alumna St Vincent, whose 2017 album Masseducation took the female perspective to the popular mainstream.
Yet, despite her evident frustrations, Walk doesn’t dwell on the depressing. The singer-songwriter has said her piece with half of the track remaining. What follows is a beautiful soundscape, representing a release of pent-up tensions. Drums aid a rising crescendo where Walk’s vocals heighten and swirl. It’s a welcome moment for reflection on the words which have preceded.
With sophomore album Another Me set for release on 28th August (One Little Independent), the combination of cutting wordplay and powerful instrumentals hints at Walk’s depth as an artist. While the Chicago-born singer’s debut album Little Black Book wasn’t short of attitude, ‘Unravel’ hints at a more mature offering to come, one which tackles the structures beneath her frustrations head-on.
Words by Adam Goldsmith