Sydney indie-pop singer-songwriter/poet meadowhip has today shared her soulful debut EP Ruckus, a journal of transformation and acceptance. The solo project from Cara Walkam comes after a major haemorrhagic stroke in 2019 and sees her utilise music as an outlet to overcome self-doubt in this transitional part of her life.
“After several months of intense recovery, I started finding clarity,” meadowhip explains. “I took stock of my life and, amongst other things, I realised that I couldn’t ever be truly happy unless I committed fully to living creatively as a songwriter, performer, recording artist and poet. It’s not an easy commitment – in fact, it’s damn challenging – but I know that the alternative would be intolerable.”
Ruckus was two years in the making and represents the personal change meadowhip experienced in that time through her own brand of alt-R&B with pop and soul stylings. The six-track project features delicate guitars, ambient textures and shimmering synths as the silken vocals demonstrate her eloquent lyrics – with liberal swearing.
“When I wrote these songs, I was writing music and poetry pretty much every day and pushing myself to work with different themes and genres, really trying to challenge myself to come up with distinct and self-contained pieces. But amidst everything I had written in that period, I had a feeling that these six songs belonged together. I actually think that they each carry so much more meaning when they’re part of the whole.”
meadowhip takes us through the EP track by track to offer insight into what each song means to her.
This is my favourite track on the EP. I’m coming straight out the gate with that pronouncement. It’s every bit the Disney fever dream that I wanted it to be (thanks to Chelsea Warner who somehow managed to decipher my vision perfectly) and it’s got the most positive and uplifting lyrics I’ve ever written – which is probably helped by the fact that there’s only 8 lines in it… no time for negativity!
“If I’m Being Honest”
This was the first song I wrote all the way through for meadowhip. It’s about realising that you’ve created a life for yourself that doesn’t really serve you. Perhaps it’s a bit sad – both sonically and lyrically – but I think it’s quite beautiful, and I really felt empowered in writing it. This song changed a lot for me and my mindset.
My first (and maybe last) love song. A cute, jazzy little ode to dysfunctional individuals in functional relationships. It’s got a wonderfully bouncy bassline, and the cracking-est trumpet solo that has graced my ears, thanks to Tommy Gun. This is the first track that Mark Evich produced for me, and it was the jumping off point for me to work with him again and again.
“Am I Broken”
This song was written at a songwriting retreat at The Artist Studio with writers from a bunch of different musical backgrounds – from Australiana (Suzi) to R&B (Chelsea Warner). Naturally, it has a bunch of different styles weaved into it which was a challenge for me to wrangle at times. However, what surprised and delighted me is that the theme of being The Worst is consistent across all genres.
This is my darling, angel baby. The one I have held onto for the longest. This was born out of a lockdown-era session with Chelsea Warner – the beat sprang up very quickly, and my vocal melody materialised almost instantaneously. It was a moment of magic, and I was besotted. Then I sat with it for nearly two years, paralysed. I thought about it constantly, but I was terrified that I would break it. I admit that I only stopped messing with the lyrics the day I went into the studio to record them. The song is a pep talk; a reminder to not fall back into patterns and habits that you swore to break.
During the 2020 lockdowns, I was constantly talking about how tired I was (from what, what was I even doing?) and I kept writing songs about being tired. Mercifully, I binned those songs and instead became obsessed with trying to create a track that sounded like what it feels like to fall asleep. This is it. Another example of Chelsea’s patience and willingness to work in the face of my esoteric ideas and largely unfathomable requests.