“Then my heart with pleasure fills/And dances with the daffodils”—William Wordsworth
It was an amazing stroke of fortune. I half thought about simply deleting a PR email without investigating the contents. Well, you know, time is at a premium, especially at the throbbing centre of a sprawling media operation, such as this blog.
Talk about luck. So pleased I clicked the email open because I haven’t been emotionally affected by a song like Kacey Johansing’s ‘Daffodils’ in a long time*. Tears streaming down my face halfway through the first play. By the time of the fifth or sixth repeat listen, the sobbing had abated. This is before I could pick out the lyrical content.
‘Daffodils’ – possible single of the year
Safe to say, ‘Daffodils’ really touched me that day. Difficult to define what overwhelmed me. Perhaps it’s better not to analyse that aspect too much. Her voice dips and soars, always in control. The swirling Mellotron and a dazzling vibraphone imparts a feeling of deep sorrow, but overall the song is so full of hope. The brilliance of this song is its ability to conjure such contrasting emotions. The songs fades out to clever repetition melodies, perhaps drawing attention to the life/death/rebirth cycle.
The reasons for the profound sadness at the heart of ‘Daffodils’ are clear. In March 2020, after learning that a dear friend’s life was coming to an end, in one sitting, Kacey wrote ‘Daffodils’. She says the song is an elegy to someone she saw was facing death with grace and curiosity. The lyrics seemingly confront her own mortality by observing a flower’s brief lifespan.
Kacey Johansing – a name to look out for
Kacey Johansing was a completely new name to me. My first thoughts when listening to the single was that the singer was Scandinavian. I was reminded of Agnes Obel and, to a lesser degree, Nina Persson. Plus Johansing … Johansen, you know?
While she may be a new name to me, the California resident has been in the bizness for many years. Her upcoming LP Year Away is her third. It will be released on the Night Bloom label, which she runs. And apart from her record label boss duties and her own music, she is a frequent touring member of bands like Hand Habits and Fruit Bats.
I have always been a sucker for female vocalists for whom the actual act of singing is utterly effortless and profoundly moving. Maybe sitting as a young kid by my mum’s feet listening to The Kick Inside by Kate Bush instilled that in me. Johansing possesses a peerless singing voice and, for me, comfortably compares with some of my favourite vocalists.
I think ‘Daffodils’ is an astonishing single. What do you think? Feel free to comment below. Certainly, if the rest of her new LP is as good as the lead single, we could have a modern masterpiece on our hands.
*The last single to have such an impact on me was ‘Constant Connection’ by Australia band Erasers. Again, it was complete chance that I heard it. I loved it so much I promptly booked them to play a show!
Year Away by Kacey Johansing is out on 13 October 2023 on Night Bloom Records.