Tamara Parsons-Baker is an Oxford based musician who, earlier this year, released a solo album, Pain is Just Pain. This marks her debut as a solo artist; her 2019 album was with her all-female rock band, Death of the Maiden.
The ten songs were written before and during lockdown and financed by a successful Crowdfunder campaign. Beginning with the title song, Tamara uses just her voice and acoustic guitar to delve into absence, loss, abandonment, memory, longing and identity. With the stripped back nature of the album as a whole, and the quiet yet powerful nature of this first track, Tamara presents the numbness and searing pain that coexist in depression. The line
“How can you bear to be happy when I feel morose”
encapsulates the divide between depressed and those around them. Tamara further explores the parallels between creativity and depression – does one fuel the other, does art heighten the emotions or, at the end of the day, is it just pain, wherever or whatever the cause.
The second track, ‘I Don’t Care‘ seemingly begins as a conventional heartbreak song but it quickly becomes clear that the singer just doesn’t care whether or not someone comes back. Is this apparent lack of care a symptom of depression or falling out of love?
The slower tempo songs yield to tracks with that are a bit jauntier and toe tapping, notably ‘The Best Advice‘ and ‘I Might Miss You‘ but emerge into definite danceability with ‘Fuck You‘ and ‘Dropped‘. The latter, along with ‘Made of You‘ have a real folk sound along with a very melodic and lyrical tune that bring the album to a satisfying musical journey.
Music has long been an outlet for emotional pain, self-examination or working-stuff-out and Pain is Just Pain is a great addition to that genre.
Tamara’s advice to aspiring artists as part of Death of the Maiden is still pertinent today:
- Support women!
- Be inclusive and if a bill isn’t diverse try to say something (if you feel able to). When promoters ask us to play a gig we ask for the line-up. If it is not diverse then we ask them to change it.
- Don’t become obsessed with data/stats/followers. It’s more important to have 30 people who genuinely like your music than 3000 people who are not engaged with what you are doing.
- Remember: resisting change is suffering.
- Have fun with the audience. They sometimes just need a bit of encouragement too!
- Be friends with your band. It is one of the most important relationships you will ever have.
- Don’t let fame/followers get in the way of friends and the joy of creativity.
- If promoters won’t give you gigs, ask other bands if you can support them at one their gigs instead.
- If your parents don’t like your music, then try to give zero fucks about it.
- Remember, most advice people will give you is terrible (apart from here!) and so take what you need and let go of the rest.
- If no one will let you into their clique/music community, start your own and make it INCLUSIVE.
- If someone tells you what to wear on stage or how to play your instrument, ignore them or challenge them if you feel safe to do so. Don’t put up with that crap!
- If your voice is louder than others, use it for good and speak up for those that are silenced.
- Work hard and have fun.
Pain is Just Pain was released in May 2022. Get your copy here.
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