Raised in the wilds of rural Dorset to punk and Queen-loving parents, Fenne Lily first picked up the guitar aged 15. Just one year later and she'd written the delicate but powerful "Top To Toe," which deftly tackled social anxiety over softly picked guitar; a song about bleak adolescence that almost everyone could relate to. Self-released, it saw the young unknown attract global attention for her sublime songwriting ability and sharp emotional intelligence, as well as her gifted way with melody, drawing comparisons to the likes of Laura Marling as well as the swooning sounds of Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten and underground 1960s psychedelic greats like Linda Perhacs.
But if you're after a record full of soft, sweetly packaged ballads, then you've come to the wrong place, On Hold is testimony that Fenne Lily is much more than your typical acoustic songwriter. "I don't want to be a folk singer, even though that's what comes easy to me," she states. "I don't want to disappoint the people who liked ‘Top To Toe', but I don't want to become pigeonholed." Now 20 years old and based in Bristol, Fenne Lily wrote the songs for On Hold in sporadic bursts. The album was recorded in Bristol and on the Isle of Wight with producers Tamu Massif and James Thorpe, as well as PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, before then being mixed by Ali Chant who Fenne first worked with on Aldous Harding's critically acclaimed album Party, for which Fenne provided guest vocals.
Thematically, most of On Hold digs into the break-up of Fenne's first important relationship and the pain that followed. Take, for example, the album's title track; an upbeat, Mac DeMarco inspired tribute to Fenne's best friend Felix, who she met immediately after the break-up. Although she sings about heartbreak, she's quick to state that her songs aren't about wallowing in misery. "My music comes from anger, but I can't sing angrily, so I sing sadly. It's a sadness that's fueled by fury." This is Fenne all over. She's straight up and to the point. As she puts it herself, there's "no fannying about" when it comes to her music and that's what makes it all the more special.