By Anna Hart, Third year English
'Mellow piano and ukulele melodies coupled with gritty, honest lyrics make dodie’s music uniquely powerful and emotive', Anna Hart reviews.
With almost 350 million streams across YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music, the 23-year-old singer/songwriter, dodie, has built an expansive and devoted fanbase since she first started recording YouTube videos of her original songs and covers at age 16. She is now touring her third EP, Human, across North America, Europe and the UK.
Mellow piano and ukulele melodies coupled with gritty, honest lyrics make dodie’s music uniquely powerful and emotive. Her set at Bristol’s O2 Academy on March 13th opened with the smooth melody of ‘Arms Unfolding’, the first track of her latest EP, before the rhythmical drum beats of ‘Monster’ kicked in. A very energetic live version of this song ensued. Jumping around and grinning on stage, dodie’s sunshine vibes were infectious, as the audience enthusiastically sang along to every song, reflecting the dedication of her fans, many of whom have followed her on YouTube for years, watching her music gain in popularity and recognition.
Continuing her set with ‘Human’, which she describes in her press release as ‘a song about connection, deep interest and excitement for a new relationship’, dodie immediately engages the audience with her beautiful voice and relatable lyrics. From ‘6/10’, a powerful song about not feeling good enough, to ‘Sick of Losing Soulmates’, a highly impactful meditation on losing someone you love, loved or could have loved, dodie’s music is so raw and heart-rendingly honest about some of the most painful feelings one can experience, inspired directly by her own struggles, which she has talked about online.
Classically existential and melancholic, dodie’s lyrics ‘we will grow old as friends, I’ve promised that before so what’s one more in our grey-haired circle waiting for the end’ accompanied by soft guitar and the chorus of the audience’s singing created an enchanting and moving musical experience.
The significance and emotional impact of dodie’s music for many audience members was clear to see in their passionate participation in her set, singing every word and cheering vehemently after every song. In particular, the strikingly simple, yet poignant song, ‘Secret for the Mad’, which is composed of only one repeated piano note, was very moving to hear live, especially within the context of it being written after a breakdown she had three years ago, as she informs the audience. A single spotlight illuminated dodie sat at the piano, singing the hopeful lines ‘I’ve got a secret for the mad, in a little bit of time it won’t hurt so bad’ and ‘I promise you it will all make sense again’.
Her more upbeat songs, including ‘Would You Be So Kind?’, ‘Party Tattoos’ and ‘In the Middle’, had the audience dancing and jumping along, with the flashing lights and beautiful fairy light backdrop adding to the ambience. The glossy white stage set created a classy and typically minimal and refined platform on which dodie performed her honest and vulnerable songs, with the focus on her music rather than excessive fancy effects or graphics. Her stage presence was one of calm confidence, composed yet vibrant, with her passion for music and songwriting clearly showing.
Telling her audience that it’s strange to sing these songs about not liking yourself and not feeling good enough in front of a room of people who fully support you, dodie began singing the beautiful ‘When’ for the encore: a song exploring how it feels for life to pass you by and not be living to the full. The lyrics ‘I’m waiting to live and waiting to love, oh it’ll be over and I’ll still be asking when’ sung stripped back with piano and violin accompaniment were powerfully emotive and totally enthralling, with the audience hanging on her every word.
Dodie’s unique capacity to combine raw emotion with charming melodies, creating relatable and captivating songs, has made her one of the most successful self-built artists of recent times. If you’ve ever seen her live, you can definitely see why.
Featured Image: Dodie/ Human
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