Making her new album, Miss Power, Connie Constance gained something she was previously denied: power. Seizing her freedom, she was able to finally take full control of her music. “It was a complete dream,” she reflects. “The only pressure was to rebuild my career as an artist – but the music, art and creativity has been completely free.”
The sharp-indie rock effort of Miss Power dramatically veers from the neo soul sounds of her 2019 debut English Rose, and does so deliberately. Miss Power is the music that Constance had always wanted to make; she grew up an avid fan of rock and indie bands such as Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party, but was steered by the industry to make music that they felt corresponded with her image.
That pressure directly stemmed from being an “afro, natural mixed-race girl” – a ‘look’ that industry players felt best suited to neo soul, R&B and jazz styles. “At the time I didn’t even take offence I just thought it was confusing, like ‘that’s not really my sound’,” she reflects. Despite her resistance, she was steered away from making guitar-thrashing indie music regardless.
“Everyone said my look is confusing, my music is confusing. I was never confused, I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” she affirms. She’s since ditched her former record label and is now liberated from the pressure to conform to the superficial, racist expectations that clouded the earlier part of her career. Miss Power is the triumphant realisation of her long-held ambitions, and it’s a way of making music that she values deeply. “I see this whole process as sacred.”
“The whole feeling of this album is really about empowerment. Stepping into your power and your strength”
It’s not surprising that the album confronts Constance’s own misgivings about the industry with moments of blinding rage. ‘Kamikaze’ is a charged rock anthem that sees Constance spitting a seething response to how women are manipulated. “It’s definitely a fuck you to the industry and how media the treats women,” she explains. “It was my fuck you to that whole idea that women get picked apart in the press, as well as a fuck you from my experience of someone trying to put me in a box.”
While ‘Kamikaze’ is the most angst-ridden track on the album, Miss Power does not confine itself to rage and reckoning. Lead single ‘Till The World’s Awake’ is an uplifting indie anthem that nods to the feel-good frenzy of noughties dance floors. “The whole feeling of this album is really about empowerment,” she explains. “Stepping into your power and your strength and who you are, who you want to be, and showing that off to the world.”
It’s an exploration into a feeling that Constance expertly explores in all shades, where the album’s largely fast-paced nature is interrupted by slower moments of reflection. ‘Never Get To Love You’ is a soft, sweet song that navigates heartbreak, while ‘Heavyweight Champion’ laments the paralysing feeling of failure, “I haven’t found the coping mechanisms / I’m still waiting at the window,” she sings.
Constance says that the more vulnerable parts of the album were the most challenging to write, while the defiant, empowered tracks like ‘Miss Power’ and ‘Till The World’s Awake’ came a lot easier. “Much of my writing was stemmed in a fight process. I was honestly trying to show a brave face for such a long time that those were the tunes I wanted to hear, like ‘you’re good’ kind of tunes,” she explains. Yet this time she felt the need to go further, to make an album that truly represented her. “That was a lot harder cause I had to dig deep and think ‘this will make me feel shit for the rest of the day’.”
While Miss Power sees Constance at her truest, it feels unfair to write off the brilliance she demonstrated in English Rose; an album that showcased lyrical wit through brutally honest spoken-word verses built on deep self-reflection and, at times, self-deprecating humour. But while Miss Power sonically thrives in the soaring indie format that Constance feels most empowered to make, it continues to build from the most accomplished moments of her early career.
From this, ‘Yuck’ feels the most engaged with her previous catalogue, as Constance composes verses through a freestyle monologue, channelling her reflections as if reading a diary entry. “Oh know it’s mental health week / everybody run / I don’t want to speak about my sadness, it’s too sad,” she bluntly reveals, her vocals layered over ear-wormy bass and guitar loops. “I wrote down a list of things that popped into my head,” she explains. “Then just did it as a freestyle and travelled through the thoughts.”
Miss Power also diverts from the political musings that Constance addressed on English Rose which confronted notions of Britishness and identity. While Miss Power feels like a more personal and emotional undertaking, did she ever feel the need to speak about the discombobulated chaos of Britishness in Sunak’s post-Boris, post-Truss, post-Queen Britain? “What I need from music is an escape at the moment, it’s nice not to be political,” she laughs, pointing out that ‘Yuck’ is the only point in the album that she mentions politics , addressing the government as “upside down people”: “It’s silly,” she says of the lyric, “…like these people that are running our country are so annoying.”
But Miss Power isn’t about Constance reflecting from afar, because she’s no longer the outsider looking in. It’s about her taking control and making everything around her fit to her mould; here she’s able to navigate her feelings as they come and celebrate that certainty. The result is a cohesive album that is anchored on electrifyingly feel-good indie music executed with dexterity and astonishing command. “I’ve given myself the rule to not say the word ‘power’ from this album onwards,” she laughs, modestly.
We’ll say it for you then, Connie; the result is pure power.
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