No matter how done I am with a genre, the top-shelf stuff can still bring me back in. Whether it’s folk-pop, hardcore, or piano ballads, the good stuff is still the good stuff. Grace Womack‘s “Oblivion” is that good stuff in the emotive piano ballad genre. It hits on all cylinders: the vocal performance, the lyrics, the piano, strings, it’s all perfect.
Womack’s voice is earthy and full, a disciple of the Adele school without being overbearingly similar in her delivery. The lyrics evoke the endless spans of time that come in the aftermath of an emotional event (or a pandemic!). Womack’s broad, swooping delivery matches the goals of the lyrics perfectly. The many references to Christian religion pepper the bars with interesting connections (the flood, resurrection, once was lost, river through my soul, etc.). The overall product is a beautiful ballad that I just want to hear over and over again.
We also had the great chance to get Grace to answer some questions for us about the song:
What prompted you to write this song? What is it about? Was there a flash of inspiration behind it?
The simple answer to this question would probably be the global pandemic hitting and ruining all of our lives, ha ha, but it’s a bit more layered than that. I had recently gone through a rough breakup, transferred colleges (for what would not be the last time), had completely changed my major twice, and had then gotten sent home from college two months into the Spring semester where I was finally making friends and doing okay for once. I truly had no idea what was going on. I moved back in with my parents and felt like I had failed at being a grown-up, even though the circumstances were well beyond my control. I remember dragging the at least 20-year-old electric piano from the game room into a corner of my poorly-lit bedroom and just trying to let it all out. Writing is cathartic for me, like it is for many writers, but this song was particularly helpful for me emotionally. It felt like I was grieving the normalcy that I had taken for granted for so long.
This song is from your forthcoming EP. What made you want to release this song into the world before the EP comes out?
I wanted to release this song separately because of how much it means to me. It feels very vulnerable to put some of my heaviest emotions on display in this format, but I also know that there are other people in every walk of life who feel this same sense of confusion and fear of the unknown, especially now. Every painful emotion is worse when you feel like you’re alone in it, so I wanted to release this as a sort of comfort for anyone who ‘s going through similar stuff as we try to emerge out of this past year and a half. The song has also found a sort of re-birth for me personally during this transition period. It’s really hard when, after staying inside and having a solid, tangible reason to be depressed or anxious for all this time, suddenly the barriers and restrictions are lifted and you’re catapulted back into a normalcy that you forgot how to navigate. It really does feel like oblivion, with no direction or precedent to rely on. But even regardless of the current timing, I think this song catches peoples attention because it has a timelessness to it. At one point or another, whether you lost your job or broke up with someone or moved across the country, we’ve all felt this way before, and I hope people find solace in that relatability.
This song isn’t lightweight, lyrically speaking, and musically it has such a gorgeousness to it. Was it fun to record in the studio? Did the finished song come out like you imagined it would, or is it totally different? How so? What was the recording session like for this song? Any great stories from the studio for this one?
Thank you!! This was actually the first one we recorded in the studio, meaning it was the first thing I’d actually ever professionally recorded, so it was a really cool experience for me. I used to do live theatre, so I remember the way your stomach ties up in knots right before a performance, but, for me at least, that feeling would always immediately go away the second I stepped on stage. Recording this was a pretty similar experience for me, emotionally, to that feeling. I was so anxious the night before and even all the way up to stepping into the recording booth, but as soon as I started to sing it through, all of that kind of melted away. You’re definitely right about this song being pretty heavy, so I just let myself enter the headspace I was in when first writing this song back in my childhood bedroom, and it all just kind of came out. There’s something about singing, specifically my own lyrics and melodies, that just puts all of the anxiety I deal with at ease, and the recording process for this song really helped me to discover that. Hearing it all come together was such a surreal moment for me. It truly feels crazy to hear such professional musicians play stuff that you wrote. It was like every little instrumentation and harmony that had only ever lived in my own head was finally coming out of a speaker.
You are a great lyricist — it’s obvious you work hard on that craft. What’s your favorite lyric line in the song? Why is it your favorite?
Thank you! Writing lyrics is my favorite part of the songwriting process by far. I’m an English major, too, so I’m really a writer at heart. As for my favorite lyric, that’s definitely a hard one. I think, if I had to narrow it down, it would probably be in the bridge when I say “I’m losing all sense of control, dried up the river flowing through my soul. But four wise men once said just ‘let it be,’ but I can’t help but wonder who you are without me.” These lyrics really summarize my feelings when writing “Oblivion.” I felt so lost and confused about where I was going and like I had lost a part of myself. I felt numb and scared and like the spark that existed somewhere in my brain was gone. And, of course, there’s the subtle nod to The Beatles, whose song “Let it Be” served as a sort of calm-down song for me over the course of the summer (and my whole life, ha ha). My “Mother Mary” came in the form of my mom who let me vent about every little detail of my feelings every chance I got, and my dad, who once held my big ol’ 19-year-old body and let me bawl in his arms like a baby about a teenage boy who he knew all along wasn’t “the one” no matter how hard I argued. I’ll never be able to repay them for their love, but I do try to through my lyrics. I think these lyrics, and honestly all of them in the song, reflect this feeling of forgiving yourself for feeling and allowing yourself to be unashamed of emotion. I would beat myself up for crying or for transferring schools or changing my major over and over but this song just allowed me to feel my feelings to their fullest extent without apologizing for it.
What do you hope the message of this song is to those who hear it?
I just want it to give people hope. Hope that they’re not alone, and that it’s okay to feel lost and to let yourself sit in that emotion for however long you need to. We’re so surrounded by this culture that tells us to go! Go! Go! But that’s ultimately just not realistic, and there’s going to be times the world forces you to slow down, even if it feels like punishment. I learned so much about myself and my relationships during what I would say was the hardest period of my life so far, and I hope people find some kind of hope in that. Art comes out of oblivion.