Most acts would find VÉRITÉ‘s position enviable. Kelsey Byrne has broken the blog charts so many times we’ve lost count, and with her debut album she could so easily rest on those previous guaranteed successes and fill it with hits. It’s a testament to her prowess as an artist and a writer that even on a full-length record she scales those same heights with entirely new material.
When we met the lady herself a while back, it became clear that none of this mattered to her – the hype (machines), the label interests, all nothing compared to challenging herself as a musician. Somewhere In Between might be a comment on a relationship or even her own position, but if it’s the latter it feels like a harsh assessment of someone very clearly on top of her game.
That lack of complacency shows on songs like Phase Me Out, where she gives herself quite a vocal task in the vein of her own track Colors. These are pop songs that are fresh, not relying on perceived cool or modish production trickery. They feel like mature, lived-in songs that build a world from the inside out rather than the other way round, with songs like Death Of Me surprising with beat flourishes and pumps of brass that her contemporaries couldn’t dream of.
Lyrically, there’s a refreshing mix of vulnerability and confession (“Maybe I fucked you up,” insists the bold Better) and pop missives that are thought-out and anything but slight. The problem comes as VÉRITÉ spends perhaps too long entangled in those shadows, and perhaps the songs wade in that darkness too much compared to the bright choruses we know Byrne is capable of. And even in the darkness, there’s a lot of sheen where perhaps a rough edge or too might flesh out the pristine presentation.
But the second half assuages us with anthemic moments like Saint and Solutions, arguably some of the best tracks she’s ever created and a much-needed shot in the arm at the right time. It’s perhaps an insult to Somewhere In Between as an independent release by saying it’s better than it has any right to be; then again it’s also hard to argue against the fact that thanks to complex emotion, maturity, and good old melody, VÉRITÉ has on her hands one of the finest pop albums of the year.