Fresh from playing two shows as main support for Ed Sheeran at the Royal Albert Hall last week, Brighton-based artist Bess Atwell shares new track ‘The Weeping’ today. The new track was produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner, and follows Atwell’s recent single ‘Sylvester.’ This new material marks the first from Atwell following her critically acclaimed album Already, Always, which was released via Lucy Rose’s Communion imprint Real Kind Records.
The origins of ‘The Weeping’ stem from Bess’ recollection of a potent vignette from her childhood, growing up alongside her sister who has severe autism.“I saw us as two halves, but two halves of a whole” she sings atop deliberately unfussy instrumentation and production. Although Atwell’s knack for capturing the nuance and minutiae of the human experience in her songwriting is well documented, in both ‘The Weeping’ and ‘Sylvester’ this takes on a new resonance. Shortly following both tracks recording at Dessner’s studio in upstate New York, she received her diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder, bringing with it a wave of validation for her both personally and artistically.
“I knew ‘The Weeping’ was in me, I just wasn’t sure when it would decide to come out. I only knew I was writing it when I got to the second verse and realised I finally had a vantage point. My younger sister is autistic, the kind of non-verbal autism that requires 24/7 care, and this track is mostly about what it was like to grow up with her. ‘The Weeping’ explores the parallels between me and my sister which is more interesting when you consider that I wrote it before I found out that I’m also autistic, this year – albeit, in a far less debilitating, disabling way.” Atwell explains,“When we were children, my sister had a toy fish tank that would light up and play music when you hit the button. I used to fall asleep next door to the sound of her replaying the toy’s melancholic piano lullaby. At just seven years old I had some understanding of the loneliness and confusion that came with being unable to communicate effectively, and stuck in your own strange world. I felt, viscerally, the attempts to self soothe with every hit of the button as the song began to play again.”