6 Feminist Albums That Got Us Through January

A drawing of the singers Linying, FKA Twigs, and Halsey standing together.

(Illustration by Jennifer Van Meter)

In the spirit of new beginnings, the first month of 2022 was stacked with fresh releases from both new and veteran artists whose strong offerings set the tone for the rest of the year. Halsey released a deluxe version of their Grammy-nominated album, FKA twigs playfully explored different soundscapes on her new mixtape, and Linying translated fear and anxiety into vulnerable songwriting on her debut album. As always, happy listening!

Halsey, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power (Extended)

Halsey - I am not a woman, I'm a god

{Capitol Records}
Release date: January 3, 2022

Halsey’s original album, released back in August and produced by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, tackled themes of pregnancy and mortality (Halsey was pregnant while writing it). The deluxe edition features two new tracks: “Nightmare - Reprise,” a Nine Inch Nails interpretation of Halsey’s 2019 single “Nightmare,” and the gloomy “People Disappear Here.” While the former becomes a more cathartic, rock track that showcases Halsey’s powerful vocal range, the latter has groovy tone where the singer toys with the concept of death (“I hurt myself to make sure I exist / I need someone to tell me how to feel / Cause people disappear here,” they croon). The tracks effortlessly add to the pop-rock sound of the singer’s strongest, most experimental album to date.

FKA twigs, CAPRISONGS

FKA twigs - jealousy (feat. Rema)

{Young Recordings Limited}
Release date: January 14, 2022

On FKA twigs’ 2019 LP, Magdalene, the artist channeled sorrowful introspection, love, loss, and power while proclaiming her own agency as a woman and challenging the history of women being stripped from positions of authority to create their own narratives. Caprisongs, twigs’ latest offering, finds her fully embracing that agency by simply having fun with the sounds and collaborators who’ve helped her appreciate it. Prior to the mixtape’s release, the British artist penned the following on Twitter: “caprisongs… it’s bronzer in the sink, alco pop on the side, a cherry lolly, apple juice when ur thirsty, friends in the park, your favourite person, that one sentence somebody said to you that changed everything, a club pre game, your bestie who is always late but brings the most to the party.” Caprisongs evokes these feelings while tapping into different soundscapes. On “honda,” featuring fellow British artist Pa Salieu, twigs offers dance-infused UK drill; on “jealousy,” featuring Rema, she brings Afrobeats; on the album’s best track, “papi bones,” featuring Shygirl, she offers dancehall; and on “careless,” featuring Daniel Caesar, she brings alternative R&B. Caprisongs is a fun, energetic mix that would make the perfect playlist for any party.

Anna Sun, Anna Sun

ANNA SUN - "Mine" (Official Video)

{Anna Sun}
Release date: January 14, 2022

Combining elements of rock, indie-pop, and folk, Anna Sun’s eponymous debut EP is filled with lulling melodies and instrumentation. The band—Samantha Aneson (vocals), Nikola Balac (drums), and Andrew “Shwogs” Shewaga (bass)—creates a dreamy playlist about finding and retaining love in a turbulent world. Anna Sun shines with optimism amid dark days. The album’s thesis is wholly captured on “Mr. Midnight,” a mellow track that concludes with a frenetic instrumental break and highlights Anneson’s airy vocals as she describes her need for a sexual escapade (“Mr. Midnight, won’t you take me home / You know as well as I it’s not good to be alone,” she yearns). Over six tracks, the band excels in its sound and songwriting in its debut, encapsulating the common desire to feel free during strange times.

Grace Cummings, Storm Queen

Grace Cummings - Heaven (Official Video)

{ATO Records}
Release date: January 14, 2022

Grace Cummings sounds like her vocal chords are being stripped apart. She wails. She screams. She sings almost every song as if it’ll be her last. The vocal intensity takes center stage in Storm Queen. It’s what makes the Melbourne artist’s style of folk music unique. While trying to decipher a meaning for Cummings’ sophomore effort can be difficult, her voice reigns supreme (hear: “Heaven,” “Up in Flames,” and “Freak”). But the record conjures vivid imagery. On “This Day in May,” she sings about the art of letting go and feeling free: “As you lay down once again / On this day in May / Eagles fly / Heaven’s arms are open wide.” “Fly A Kite” also evokes naturalist imagery: “Go fly a kite / Tie your troubles to the tail / There’s joy flying by / Bring your daughters for the day.” Storm Queen, with poetic imagery and a voice that can easily overpower any instrument, provides a very detailed yet intimate version of folk music that makes Cunnings’ stand out as a bright star in the genre.

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Linying, There Could Be Wreckage Here

Linying - Good Behaviour (Official Music Video)

{Linying}
Release date: January 14, 2022

It’s tempting for us to doubt that any good experience will last. And having a difficult time enjoying those experiences in the moment is a result of that urge. There Could Be Wreckage Here embodies that uncomfortable feeling. Across eight tracks, Linying sings about the fear of trusting things that can be good for her while learning to accept those positive experiences. “Faith” is a soft track where Linying describes pining for more faith in herself to be less cynical: “I can be free, just got to be a little bit blind / So I don’t look too hard / I just play my part and see / What happy looks like on my knees.” On “Good Behaviour,” she sings about learning to surrender herself to those who love her for who she is and not for whom they want her to be: “Everybody love my good / behavior / Everybody love me softer, / sweeter / And you don’t really ask for / either.” There Could Be Wreckage Here is a promising debut. Linying translates the act of embracing happiness into relatable, vulnerable songwriting.

Amber Mark, Three Dimensions Deep

Amber Mark - Bliss (Official Video)

{PMR/Interscope}
Release date: January 28, 2022

Amber Mark’s highly anticipated debut album meanders through themes of aching to be loved to lacking self-esteem as the singer creates a masterful project about battling anxiety. Throughout the 17-track LP, the Brooklyn-based artist merges the worlds of dreamy pop/R&B with stellar production and honest songwriting. She shares the many thoughts that plague her. “One,” the album’s opener, expresses the pressure of the weight of the world on her shoulders: “Goddamn, this pressure is having me feel frustrated / And all this bad weather followin’ me like we datin.’” The single has an upbeat, bouncy groove that juxtaposes Mark’s somber lyrics, setting the tone for the rest of the album. On “Most Men,” Mark translates a scorned woman’s pain into an ethereal jam, and “Bubbles” is a dancehall-tinged single about getting over an ex. Throughout Three Dimensions Deep, Mark experiments with different sounds and vibes along her quest to self-acceptance and happiness.

 

by DeAsia Paige
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DeAsia Paige is a St. Louis–based freelance writer whose work covers music, culture, and identity. She’s been published in VICE, the Nation, Blavity, and Okayplayer. She firmly believes that there’s a Real Housewives of Atlanta scene for everything. You can find her on Twitter @deasia_paige.