Listen to Sentimental, a cathartic return from one of Australian pop's best, GRAACE
The tender and stripped-back return marks her first single in over a year, and the debut of a very intimate new sound.
Over the last four years, GRAACE has been behind some of Australian pop music's most triumphant moments. Her debut was a chart-storming collaboration with Hayden James, who seemingly plucked the Melbourne-born musician out of nowhere for his breakthrough single Numb in 2017. She was the spark that lit a flame underneath the seasoned producer's discography; her warm and emotive hook being such a compliment to Hayden James' production that eventually became a trigger point in his career, signalling a twist towards more vocal-focused dance-pop that would soundtrack the producer's growth in the years following.
Numb also launched GRAACE's career too. It provided the perfect entrance that would later be explored through GRAACE's own work, with the following singles - 2018's Kissing Boys and Last Night - providing a segue into her debut EP Self Sabotage towards the end of that year. Self Sabotage felt like an encapsulation of GRAACE's talents, rich with the powerful songwriting she relishes in and the genre-varying, often-dynamic productions that would dance and move alongside, lifting GRAACE up to become a heralding artist of Australian pop's next generation.
It's a tall title that GRAACE has been busy cementing over the last few years. Each single she's unveiled since Self Sabotage has showcased another side of the musician, from the romanticism of 2019's 21st Century Love to the intimacy of Overthink and Hard To Say, as well as last year's somewhat triumphant and trailblazing Body Language, which welcomed a jagged edge to the GRAACE discography.
However, no matter what sound or texture GRAACE attempted through her work, it was something she'd make her own through her reflective songwriting - something which has long been the hallmark of GRAACE's musicianship, regardless of which sound it spans. "[Music is the one thing that gave me purpose. I struggle to speak up on things and I don't like confrontation. Music’s the one thing where I'm just brutally honest," she says. " If I've touched someone with a song and helped them with words that they're not able to articulate themselves, then I'm content."
In saying that, the last 12 months or so have been transformative for GRAACE. She's been quiet ever since the release of Body Language, focusing her attention inwards as she cathartically examines the core of her songwriting and the heavy emotions and experiences that drive it, placing more emphasis on the things that fuel her songwriting rather than the songwriting itself. There's heartbreak and life's natural ups and downs - as shown through her debut EP - but there's also the loss of her father when she was 14 years old; something she's begun to explore more centrally through her work.
"As someone who has dealt with death, it’s hard to sing about, but I personally love songs that are about loss. So, I thought, why don’t I do that for the people who have lost someone in their lives?" She questions. "In January, it'll be 10 years since I lost my father. I think it’s kind of beautiful to finally be able to write about it, to move on and grow.”
It's a core theme of the music she's been writing in the time since Body Language, such as her bold returning single Sentimental which doesn't just mark GRAACE's first single in over a year, but also the debut of a far more intimate and subtle look into her sound. Comparative to the electro-pop clash of her work previously, Sentimental sees GRAACE strip things right back to the backbone of her musicianship, pulling away from the dancing synth in favour of something more centred on acoustic guitar and piano - and the vocals and lyricism these instruments uplift.
Sentimental is a brilliant example of which, haunting in its presence yet beautiful in its songwriting - the single being a reflective and overtly personal moment for GRAACE that really showcases her craft in lyricism, and her talents as a songwriter that can sometimes be overlooked when the production's a little more dominative. "Is this how the futures supposed to be?" she questions in the single's lyrics, as her gaze over past relationships show how she's grown in the years since Self Sabotage all those years ago.
It's something that's bound to continue as GRAACE sits on a wealth of material; songs that built themselves up as she gazed further into her life and used music to break down the walls and have hard, personal conversations with herself. That's music we're likely to hear over the next little while, but until then, Sentimental is a bold new step for GRAACE, and one that brings a stark reminder of her talents as one of Australian pop's most impactful lyricists.
Watch the song's video clip below, and catch her on tour later this year - dates and more information here.