I am woman, hear me roar / in numbers too big to ignore / and I know too much to go back an' pretend . . . I am wise but it's wisdom born of pain / yes, I’ve paid the price but look how much I gained / if I have to, I can do anything / I am strong (strong) / I am invincible (invincible) / I am woman. When you look at the cover of Verity White’s second album “Reclaim; Set Fire,” those lyrics to Helen Reddy’s song “I Am Woman” just comes to mind, because you quickly see the power, the confident poise, the pride, adaptability, sensitivity, creativity, feistiness, pain, beauty, and the progression of femininity – to put it plainly, you see all that is woman.
Musically, Verity has always been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to her methodology of doing music because as a Rock artist, she is picture perfect in all that she creates – her appeal to the masses with lyrics that are descriptive, honest, and unapologetic, her ability to rise over defeat and claim her throne as the Mistress of Rock by evolving and having staying power, and how she keeps her audience and critics guessing by keeping the music fresh with track after track of songs that empower, enthuse, and engage.
She is woman; she is reclaiming; and she is on fire!
So, let’s dive right into this wonderful guitar-driven collection of Rock music that has irons in the pots of New Wave and Classic Alternative Rock:
- Come and Get It
- Turn this up
- Inside your love
- Push it Down
- Goodbye, you’ll see
- Listen Up!
- Feel This
In my interpretation of “Reclaim; Set Fire,” I will be highlighting six tracks to illustrate the threading theme of self-confidence and female strength.
The opening track “Come and Get It” is a driving, demanding, track that exudes a self-assured persona. The lyrics alarmingly sing “if you want it, come and get it” which clearly presents this confidence of self. This pure Rock track with hot-as-fire cymbals, and a riveting guitar, keeps you moving from the first foot stomp on to the final yell. Verity aggressively starts this track and keeps up with the music like an Olympic runner, trilling, climbing, and crooning from note to note. This up-tempo track is a modern feminist anthem that will get everyone asking themselves, where can I get a dose of oomph like Verity?
And after listening to “Come and Get It,” which gets the blood going, it feels good to decompress with a sort of musical vacation which comes it the form of the second track.
“Heartstorm” calms the heart with its relaxed introduction that plays like a pleasant mental time-pacer with the guitar riffs being played so gently like the guitarists were touching spiderwebs of bass and lead (I love this effect). This soft introduction gives the listener that so-many-seconds of tranquility that is needed to reboot, but it quickly grows into a ballad that growls.
Verity softly enters the track singing cautiously but provokingly, and then she slams into a hostile vocal – she sings: I felt lost / I couldn't see a way out / storm gathers overhead / its too soon for it to rain down / a tempest raging in the dark / can I control it, I control it, I control it? / I follow my heart right through this storm but it's hard to love when your heart's stillborn / your broken pieces all around my bed I pick them up, still cherry red . . . I feel you underneath my skin / you think you're stronger then me / I won't give in. The lyrics of “Heartstorm” paint the picture of an impending failure in a relationship. The lyrical illustration shows how one can see the dark clouds looming before the storm, but you still have time to react – or will you?
The fourth track of the collection is a wonderful example of how Verity does not just settle where people expect her to stay – she evolves. Verity can change lanes without crashing, and it comes in the form of “Inside Your Love.”
What Verity has done with “Inside Your Love” is what I call tempering the genre, where an artist does not leave their genre of choice but tweaks it some by adding in other elements to the mix to add variation. As a Rock artist, it was nice to hear a track that exhibits an Electro Pop bottom, tempo, and overall production while Verity still laid into that full-bodied Rock lyrical style. Full of energy, “Inside Your Love” contains an infectious hook. Verity vocally creates that hill-to-valley effect with her trills that just doubles the catchiness of the song, and the dual vocal effect on the hooks just highlights Verity’s crisp enunciations. Stating the title of the album within its lyrics, “Inside Your Love” is a wonderful mid-to-up tempo, commercially-ready cut about having that one person by your side that helps you to reset and start anew.
Starting like a fairytale, “Wild” is a Rock ballad that radiates an organic feel like the ballads of the 1960s, where the musical outline is so crisp and plain that it is seductive. The lyrics of this track are just pleasantly consuming: Picking at the pieces of the person that I am / I don't know what we'll find this time / I scare myself, I don't know what lies underneath / I scare myself, with my lack of belief / Please forgive me if I seem a little wired / I don't know who I am, I'm nurturing this child / Please forgive me if I seem a little tired / I'm beaten down, I'm broken and I'm wild. Verity’s whole, robust, vocalizations makes you hear the strength of the song, as the mellow backing vocal and single lead guitar makes you hear the innocence of the song.
“Wild’s” storyline is about not knowing who you are, or shall I say, what you can accomplish, and figuring it all out. And, I love the two-angled point of view of this track. It’s a wonderful love song if you imagine the character singing to her partner in terms of them helping her recognize herself – which is so beautiful. On the other hand, it is cathartic if you see the character as exploring herself to see who she finds.
Self-exploration is something that takes a lot of examining but is so empowering once it is completed and you come out on the other side focused and knowing YOU! Either way, “Wild” speaks to us and justifies our need to be recognized, whether it is by our own reflection or someone else’s view.
“Push it Down” is cunning, because it starts out so sweet and then belts you in the ear and continually keeps the punches coming . . . and I like it! Verity and her band keep you engaged and riding with their music right out of the gates even before moving to the second verse. This hard-hitting track was made to be performed in a big space. Verity’s vocal execution on her leads are snarly but good-looking like leather and lace.
That awesome guitar solo gave me life – OMG – is it just me or is “Push it Down” Rock anthem-worthy? Um . . . Yes! A song with mixed tempos about ego never sound so good. This is what hits are made of! Listen to the guitars and drums pound it out at that outro – bam!
Closing the album is “Feel This” – a ballad that is simply outstanding! Honestly, it has been a while since I have heard a female rocker knock them out on a ballad. We heard this a lot with Heart and Roxette in the 1980s, but not since then, until now – thanks Verity White.
Verity’s soulful, spirited leads mixing with harmony notes in the hooks makes this song like a second skin. And Verity’s overall emotional delivery on this track is superb. Sure, I am a fan, but this is true – when you listen to “Feel This” you get the anguish, questions, and yearning. Adding to the emotions brought out on this track is the music – a single piano.
The way the pianist plays on “Feel This” makes this song so thought-provoking and honest. For instance, the classic piano does not take away from the lyric, it expertly complements the content of the song which is about trailing careful through life, day by day, finding our way. Such skill, it easily sounds as if the piano is telling its inner confessions across the hall. “Feel This” is the rose of the bunch with delicate vocal elements and thorn piercing piano chords.
Hands-up to the vocal execution and the overall production of “Reclaim; Set Fire.” Verity and her band’s talents really shine on this album. From beginning to end, this female-fronted band synch and flex to each other’s musical twists, changes, scales, and falls. The guitarists, percussionist, keyboardist, and producer really have that “IT” factor and they know how to play well with Verity. They illustrate variation, fearlessness, and skill all in thirty-three minutes!
Now, let me pull the frontwoman into the spotlight:
I love the direction that Verity took for the entire album. She was able to give self-acceptance a spine, pushing it to the foreground so everyone could see how this is doable. Verity was also able to lyrically support her theme of female strength by showing that it takes passion to be powerful which in term enables a woman to RECLAIM herself as well as SET FIRE to anything that needs to be removed. But this is no surprise when it comes to Verity. As a creative artist, Verity continues to evolve to present something new to the masses. The cover art alone illustrates Verity’s ingenuity.
I touched on this at the opening of this review, but let me take another minute to revisit the cover art of Verity White’s “Reclaim; Set Fire.” This artwork evokes the image of evolving, thus the butterfly. Not a typical change, but a powerful transformation, therefore the fire. And then there’s Verity poised right in the center, or shall I say epicenter, indicating that things are going to crack, rumble, and fall when she changes things. Yes, there is going to be some damage, but with every sort of storm, comes PEACE!
And in terms of Verity’s vocal stylings on this album, she’s both vehement and cautious, knowing when to vocally stomp or tip-toe. Her range is superb and wide. Lyrically, she implemented both “push” and “pull” treatments regardless of the song’s tempo – meaning some tracks lyrically asked for something while others enforced. Only accomplished songwriters know how to explore this technique. Not to say that her previous work was weak or too rough, no, not at the least, but on “Reclaim; Set Fire, we vividly see that this collection of songs is a byproduct of Verity’s self-expression resulting in an honest, arched, strong, dual-sided, balanced piece of creation – we see WOMAN!
I seriously hope you download your copy TODAY. This is not an album that you want to snooze on. They say the future is female and Verity is taking center stage – always hard as nails yet soft as water and transparent – fearless but understanding. To ignore this album would be inexcusable!