Lilly MacPhee instantly provides a comforting, emotional release for the brokenhearted.
The Brighton indie folk singer-songwriter beautifully soothes and relieves grief-stricken souls on her tender, thoughtful latest single, “Waves,” which serves as a heartfelt tribute to her late uncle Ron.
“For me, songwriting is helpful as an outlet. I saw my family going through the grieving process, so I wrote the chorus really quickly and instantly felt better. I wrote that song within a half-hour after I had the idea for it,” said MacPhee, who lost her uncle to COVID-19 in December.
Throughout “Waves,” MacPhee openly shares her personal sorrow amidst a calming, acoustic-centered folk symphony. Somber, glistening guitar, heavenly strings and contemplative piano soar as grief slowly washes over her.
She elegantly sings, “Can we pause this moment/Freeze for a second/Not make any decisions with mixed emotions/As the waters rise, I try to find/A way to breathe/Full speed it hits me.”
“My family just loved it. At one point, we had gone to visit my aunt and cousins. I had a recording of it on my phone, and I had them listen to it. My aunt was so teary, and she said it really explained the grieving process,” MacPhee said.
While “Waves” boldly captures the raw honesty of MacPhee’s grief, it also reminds listeners to cherish their loved ones and focus on the present.
“Sometimes we need to sit back and really appreciate the small moments, whether it’s having a cup of coffee or going for a drive with someone. Time just goes so fast, and sometimes we forget that. I try to live in the present and not worry too much about the future,” MacPhee said.
As a DIY artist and musician, MacPhee recorded, produced, mixed and mastered “Waves” in her home studio earlier this year. She also released an intimate acoustic video for the track, which features a poignant, memorable live performance.
“That was the first song I recorded and released at home. During the pandemic, I invested in recording equipment and slowly built my own home studio. I thought, ‘I have all this stuff here, so why not give this a go?’” she said.
The Brighton indie folk singer-songwriter gently wraps her musical arms around listeners with her third poignant and poetic EP, “Notes,” which drops today.
“I really just wanted to write about all different themes, and that’s what I try to do with all of my EPs. I named the EP ‘Notes’ because sometimes a line or an idea happens in my head, and then I write it down and later craft it into a song,” MacPhee said.
MacPhee beautifully crafted her latest EP’s three introspective, comforting tracks as a follow-up to 2019’s striking “Heartstrings” EP. The breathtaking opener, “Where You Are,” features tender acoustic strums and mournful slide guitar that later erupts into an emotional epiphany filled with a Fleetwood Mac-inspired rhythm section.
She hauntingly sings, “I’ve been walking for miles now/And I’ve been searching up and down/And I’m trying, trying to find you/Chasing shadows everywhere, I hear your voice/I know you’re there, and I’m trying, trying to find you.”
“It’s a nice love song about missing someone, and I was actually experiencing writer’s block in 2019. Last summer, I went to Ireland, Scotland and London, and then as soon as I came back from that, I wrote ‘Where You Are,’” said MacPhee, who’s latest EP cover features a photo of her taken in Edinburgh.
While MacPhee tries to locate a lost love in “Where You Are,” she reassures another to maintain a positive outlook in “I’ll Show You the Way.” This exquisite track weaves thoughtful acoustic strums and quickly melds them with delicate drums, light bass and calming slide guitar as MacPhee sings, “And we’re spinning, turning, and twirling around the idea/And together we say, it’s a brand new day.”
The EP’s gorgeous closing track, “Cold,” includes deep, sorrowful acoustic guitar throughout it as MacPhee sadly sings, “I took a step back and I looked around/And in all the noise I didn’t hear a sound/I wanted to scream, I wanted to shout when I heard those words leave your mouth.”
“So ‘Cold’ obviously had the darker theme out of the other two songs, but the inspiration behind ‘Cold’ was actually written after I watched the Nicholas Sparks film, ‘Safe Haven,’ and then I heard a song in the movie called ‘Say Anything’ by Tristan Prettyman. I would love to have my songs placed in TV and film someday, too,” MacPhee said.
MacPhee recorded “Notes” at Ann Arbor’s Big Sky Recording with Billy Harrington (drums, percussion), Michael Harrington (lead guitar), Timothy Monger (accordion, electric piano) and engineer Geoff Michael (lead guitar, bass). She also worked with Geoff Michael on last year’s “Heartstrings,” which features the two handling the entire EP’s instrumentation.
In fact, MacPhee has soared throughout metro Detroit as an emerging singer-songwriter since the release of her five-track debut EP, “From the Start,” in 2018. The beautiful opener, “Lullaby,” provides a relaxing escape from life’s everyday troubles with mesmerizing guitar, vibrant piano and delicate drum taps as MacPhee quietly sings, “Breathe deep, breathe slow/I am here, won’t let go/Alone you will never be, listen closely.”
“I wrote that song for my mom when she was going through a hard time. I think anybody can relate to it and know that they’re free no matter what they’re going through,” she said.
A year later, MacPhee released “Heartstrings,” which includes the stunning “Blink of an Eye” with bright acoustic guitar and somber vocals, “I wish I could rewind time/Cuz you were gone in the blink of an eye/Now it’s 3 a.m., and I’m still weak/Insomnia has the best of me.”
“I wrote the ‘Blink of an Eye’ song for one of my mom’s best friends when her mom passed away. That seems like one others can relate to a bit,” she said. “I also like the ‘Our Way Back Home’ song, it’s a nice, happy love song, and it kind of picks you up. It would be a tie between those two.”
MacPhee started carving a musical path for herself at age 11 while learning guitar, writing songs and listening to her mother’s Motown and folk albums. She also sought creative inspiration from the late Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries as well as Natalie Merchant.
Her musical path eventually led to a growing roster of live performances at the Michigan Theater, The Ark, 20 Front Street, Black Crystal Cafe and Arts, Beats & Eats. She’s also scheduled to perform March 7 at Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters in Royal Oak, March 14 at Lu & Carl’s Bar & Grill in Brighton and March 19 at Hell Saloon in Pinckney.
“I’m just going to continue with songwriting and expanding my catalog of songs, and I’m just going to keep performing and hope that I can connect with the listeners,” said MacPhee, who also plans to release lyric and live videos soon.