Welcome all to 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
𝙀𝙣𝙜𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙙 - 𝙀𝙢𝙞𝙡𝙮 𝙂𝙧𝙖𝙮
Charles is in mourning…
I very nearly did not and could not write this. But if I did not write this, there would not have been a “review” this week. Small though it may be, this is my duty.
It is not enough to say “my sincerest condolences over her passing, and my thoughts are with the family and the nation”. This is the usual automatic response from any public diplomat or politician, when anyone of note passes away. But this goes far beyond “of note”. This goes beyond anything we have ever known. We use the word “tragedy” so often these days, but I personally am so rarely affected by most “tragedies”, because most of them have nothing to do with me, or to do with anyone I have ever known. I can usually only be affected by things personal to me. People I know. But again, here lies the uniqueness in what has happened. I have never known the Lady, nor have I ever met Her. But this is most certainly a personal feeling. A true tragedy of the highest degree, and one that genuinely affects me. In feeling this way, I am not alone.
Tributes have poured in from across the nation and around the world, and they will not stop for quite a while, I am sure. This is my simple, humble tribute.
I am beside myself with grief over the recent news. It pauses rarely. Every morning is a fresh wound and reminder of the truth. My breath is hot from the tears I have shed. My heart is raw. My heart is numb. My mind is full, yet wandering in unfamiliar territory. My mouth is open, yet I am unable to speak. The last remaining pillar of Old England has toppled. Or moreover, has elegantly laid down, to rest. The Queen has died. Our Queen. My Queen. Her nation collectively bows its head in mournful and respectful silence, but it is more than a sense of duty this time. It is personal. This is automatic and instantaneous sadness. Grief. Shock even, despite the clear knowledge that this day would surely be in the not too distant future. Yet we always imagined it to be in the future. A kind of denial. A “Yes, but not right now” moment. We all knew it technically had to happen at some point, but we quietly thought of it as an impossibility. As if She were to be immortal. Well, our Queen will certainly continue to live on. As with the many wreathes laid by Her Majesty over the years, Queen Elizabeth has laid something more monumental, meaningful and far from mortal. A vital sense of calm, unity, peace and assurance. A more modern version of religion for those who believe and for those who do not. Being a non-believer myself, this is how I always saw the reason for religion. To instil peace, order and morals in people, long before there was anything so brash and simplistic as a police force. As belief wanes, our monarchy is possibly more important. Something above and beyond bickering politics, transcending petty arguments and making us all come together, as one. With seeming ease, the Queen made us smile. She made us relax and made us feel good. So, does it stop here? Have we reached England’s last page? Thankfully not, for this is but the end of a very long and very wonderful chapter, in a book that is still being written.
Despite our gargantuan loss, not ALL is lost. As one candle goes out, another is lit. We have a new King. King Charles III. Thankfully, the other Charles. Through the perfectly English weather of the past few days, we have seen pouring rain with intermittent rays of golden sunshine. In fact, at - it turns out - just around the moment the Queen gave her last breath, I snatched the most beautiful photograph of a rainbow. It was a rare symbol of England, where not only the sun and the rain unite, but perhaps conveying an encouraging and guiding message that our new King will both reign and shine. Confidence not so much restored, as continued down the line. It may be a time of mourning for now, but in the passing of time, we will be welcoming the new King with open arms. In fact, this has already started to happen, as people get to grips with the new pronoun - something we’re perhaps rather more used to these days.
Although the Crown is the head of the United Kingdom, Ireland and the entire Commonwealth across the globe, its origins are most vital to me: England. My dear old Land of Eng. I have never seen anything wrong with being patriotic - quite the reverse, in fact. I wish for every nation to be patriotic. Having pride in one’s own country does not mean to be against any other. What can POSSIBLY be wrong with that? It does not mean to be arrogant or boastful, but just proudly and modestly content with a head held high. Not a competition. It is with this in mind, that I bring you a lesser known lady of the realm, Emily Gray. It could maybe be thought of as unfortunate timing to release a single the day after the death of the Queen and the simultaneous ushering in of a new King. However, being that the title of the song is “England”, it is rather fortunately fitting. An astounding coincidence, or maybe fate? Let’s stick with a tearjerkingly beautiful coincidence.
I was delighted to see that Emily had written this upbeat anthem for the masses. She sings with a distinctly fitting English accent and a positive lilt. The song captures that brief era from late adolescence to early adulthood, and she does it beautifully. From the softer acoustic melancholic verse to the anthemic singalong chorus in a more country rock style, its simplicity is its key. Through a brief dropout of the instruments, Emily goes to the next level with her singing as her voice almost struts with a giddiness backed only by drums, before a classic key change that should be cheesy, but is actually rousing!
Emily is English. Yet she has evidently been away from home for a while. In Catalonia, to be precise. You know, when you’re young and you have these perfectly exciting ideas of moving elsewhere “to get away from it all”? A much needed change of scenery? Or perhaps for the sake of a lover? It all seems so simple and the obvious choice. The only choice. There can be nothing wrong with this. I mean, there might be, but you perhaps can’t see it. Emily thought of the Spain she would be going to, rather than the England she would be leaving behind. For some, this can work just perfectly, and exactly as planned - genuinely the right choice, for whatever reason. But sometimes, it turns out a little sour. Maybe boring? Maybe just not quite what you had in mind. For some, the problem might have been that you didn’t realise what you had in the first place. Hadn’t explored, both physically and mentally in one’s own land before exploring others. Usually though, moving from one country to another is wonderful at first, but then the longing starts to kick in… Emily misses England. She wonders if it might have missed her… Remembered her, even? Has it changed? Home is where the heart is, so they say. She is concerned that it might be so different that her heart has no place to go. That it is no longer like home… Not here, my dear. You are always most welcome, remembered and missed. The huge news however is a reminder of the constant change around us all, even those “forever things”. But, to replace one rose with another of a different colour is not necessarily a bad thing. Emily cannot possibly have foreseen this tragedy arriving on the dawn of her release, but I suspect she is even more moved to join her hometown and feel the sense of belonging more than ever before.
Of course, I have only gained these thoughts from her lyrics. She might be singing about the England women’s football team, for all I know - (we won, by the way). But the romantic side of me likes to think that I was right. Isn’t it in the end all about love, after all…? In actual fact, it was written while unable to come home during the pandemic, hence her simple yet touching lyrics. What I DO know, is that Emily Gray has made a cracking, supremely mixed single full of pride. The passion in her strong voice says it’s true, and her accent makes it believable. Lovely Jubbly!
One final word on England’s ultimate lady. Our stoic Queen, for whom the bell tolls, is relieved of her lifelong duties, and will be reunited with her faithful, dutiful rock, Prince Philip, in peace. We must do the decent thing; what the Queen would have wanted. Or gracefully commanded. Her Majesty echoed her father’s words from 1939: “Keep Calm and Carry On”. And so, I will.
God Save the King.
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