“All of my writing stems from streams of consciousness which eventually get strung together into finished songs,” Kelsey Byrne a.k.a. VÉRITÉ explained during my recent interview with the dynamic, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter. “I don’t process emotions normally at times and a lot of what I feel escapes into my writing. I don’t need to protect anything. I’m happy to be an open book.” And it is precisely this fearless approach to her songwriting that makes VÉRITÉ’s music so enthralling.
Though she has been unveiling songs at a steady clip throughout the past three years, the self-released Somewhere In Between represents her first full-length affair and the grandest manifestation of her artistic vision yet. Across the album’s thirteen songs, one does indeed get the sense that VÉRITÉ holds nothing back in conveying her truth directly and defiantly, which should come as no great surprise considering her chosen stage moniker.
But beyond her refreshing candor, the immersive, electro-pop soundscapes that accompany her crystalline vocals combine to create a powerful sound that pivots in unexpected and daring ways. Collectively, Somewhere In Between’s songs effectively harness the dichotomy between the darker shadows of their creator’s subject matter and the radiant confection of sonic tricks and treats dispersed throughout. You’d be hard-pressed to find a skippable track in the lot, but a handful of standouts do emerge upon repeated listens.
Awash in gorgeous, multi-layered synth flourishes, album opener “When You’re Gone” showcases VÉRITÉ’s knack for seamlessly configuring her versatile vocals with shifting, nonlinear arrangements. A kiss-off to a lover whose presence fails to eclipse his absence, the track finds her conjuring vivid imagery with poetic lines like “Baby take me back to New York City / Where the stars don't ever see me / I can hide under the scenery of a saturated sky / Share some conjugated meaning / Watch the light drip down your face / And when you'll leave I'll feel the same, ohh.”
Just as VÉRITÉ alternates between embodying confidence and vulnerability, a kindred sense of duality pervades the entirety of the album and her lyrical ruminations. Nowhere is this more pronounced than on the booming head rush of “Saint,” with its chorus of “'Cause I know I'm a sinner / But I could be a saint in your head / No I don't got religion / But I'll tip my hat to the dead / No, you're not a season / Set to leave me in the cold / Still, I got a sickness / That time you said I was, said I was yours.” Likewise, the lush, warmly hypnotic “Death of Me” finds her exploring the complexities of finding harmony with another, surmising that “I could be your everything / and you could be the death of me.”
Other highlights include the soaring, pulsating groove of “Floor,” the dazzling breakup song “Better,” and the bold, brash lead single “Phase Me Out.” With “Control,” VÉRITÉ offers a personal anthem of sorts that reflects her DIY modus operandi, as she unabashedly proclaims that she’s “in love with control.”
And with each subsequent listen, I fall more and more in love with Somewhere In Between. Higher profile releases from female pop powerhouses Katy Perry (Witness) and Lorde (Melodrama) will invariably garner substantially more fanfare, due to the major label machines and well-entrenched brand names propelling their albums forward. But VÉRITÉ’s self-assured debut long player suggests that her star shall rise to such great heights soon enough.
Notable Tracks: “Death of Me” | “Floor” | “Saint” | “When You’re Gone”