cehryl has often floated between genres. Sometimes indie-pop, sometimes indie-rock; other times R&B but almost always indie-something. Indie is an elusive genre, but when it comes to cehryl, it is clear to mean independent. The singer-songwriter-producer has a knack for creating independently – her debut album Slow Motion was an entirely solo effort from her bedroom in Los Angeles.
Recently though, cehryl has been collaborating with admirable names in the industry. “angels (emily)”, her latest release, was co-produced by Andrew Sarlo (producer of Big Thief’s U.F.O.F.). The collaboration is almost effortless, building a strongly-defined musical style that is both poetic and cinematic; it helps that some of cehryl’s favourite artists form Sarlo’s discography (Nick Hakim, Big Thief and Bon Iver). Still, a growing production team nor her relocation to Hong Kong has stopped cehryl from proving her strength in self-production as in the majority of her discography.
Sung to the titular “Emily”, “angels” describes the feeling of wanting to change yourself for something bigger and better, and asking what is necessary to achieve it: “What have I got to do to reach the angels / What have I got to give to turn the tables.” Her verses ruminate in being lost, and her chorus a plea to the metaphorical “Emily”. With the ethereal vocal and synth layers, the subdued guitar, the projection of intensity and vulnerability embedded in her lyricism, “angels” beautifully paints the uncertainty of ambition.
It hits close to the idea of wanting to reach musical fame but wondering how to achieve it without losing a sense of yourself. In a switch in composition, cehryl sings, “She said, she said don’t you wanna be famous / So I said, I said, how can you be so shameless.” Alluding to L.A., the city of angels, it’s hard to stay true to yourself amongst a sea of rising artists fighting for the elusive prize.
But while the Hong-Kong native often shies away from the spotlight, the height of her talents put cehryl in a unique place in the industry. As an illustrator, photographer, filmmaker, amongst other things outside of music, cehryl’s art is as catchy as it is introspective to feel like an escape from the world around her.