The phrase Stay Warm implies the cold.
Literally, this is true. It’s currently -15 degress Celsius, and the whole region I live in has recently been shut down by Old Man Winter’s churlish chill.
Figuratively though, it’s a cold world out there, one that can prey on the vulnerable.
Missy Bauman’s new EP Stay Warm drops on Valentine’s Day and is full of warm vocals and sparse guitar notes. When you dig in lyrically, though, it’s a clear commentary of the cold world we live in. It’s ironic then that it comes out on the day that Cupid is said to draw his arrow – the content of Bauman’s songs are not heart-warming tales about falling in love, but quite the contrary.
Missy Bauman “is not afraid to sit you down on the bed, look you in the eyes, and tell you the painful truths you need to hear” says Sam Boer about her songwriting style. This couldn’t be more true on this EP as Bauman is telling us a painful truth of how young women are forced to navigate a world that can treat them as though “everything [they] hide/ sits right above [their] thighs” a line she crafts on Garter Belt to explore a love gone wrong.
The theme of staying warm in the cold develops on a few levels. She makes clear references to the literal cold throughout the EP: “I ride my bike to forget you/ But I know that winter’s coming soon” she intones in the same tender voice that made Girlhood such an intoxicating album in 2016, but with some of the directness of 2017’s Don’t Fear the Dark.
Later, on Two Sisters she tells us that her body is freezing and she’s drunk and only sixteen. The figurative cold world then unfolds in a story of sexual assault that is so brave and real, it won her the Ontario Folk Music award for ‘Best Song From the Heart’ in the Political Category.
Bauman describes her music using the term ‘dreamy drug folk’ and while there is less dream pop on Stay Warm, there is more feeling. There is less drug folk and more political folk. The sonics rely almost solely on her voice and carefully crafted lyrics; fortunately, she is in full control of both here, which elevates this pairing of songs to gorgeous heights.
Her lines bear the weight of a reflective lament: “Is there another word for no/ that I just don’t know,” she wonders in the refrain. “If I had the strength/ you know I would have fought back.” But a brave song like this is a way to fight back. And it will empower others to tell their story.
Stay Warm is short collection that reminds us the world can be a cold place. There are ways to stay warm, though. Listening to Bauman pour her heart out honestly, beautifully, and bravely is one way.
If you want an Exclusive Preview to Stay Warm, follow this link to her website where you can connect to her on Spotify.
Written by Jesse Wilkinson
Photos provided by artist