The last release from With Sun (AKA Alice Hale), was the incredibly moving ‘Thirteen Weeks’ about the devastating effects of her first miscarriage*. That was back in July 2022 and, apart from the occasional gig, things have been quiet musically. Not so in her personal life, as Alice has now become a mother. She was determined to not let writing and recording slip and says:

It would have been so easy to not release this. I would have saved myself a lot of money, time and energy (all of which I need right now) But it’s important to me that I don’t sacrifice this part of myself to motherhood. I persevered because there are a lot of barriers to mothers in music and I don’t want to be pushed out. So I’m here to celebrate the small but BIG wins!

The new single ‘Holding’ is a beautiful example of the delicate music With Sun does so well; never too saccharine. There is always a plaintive quality to Alice’s voice that is unhurried and reflective and holds your attention throughout the tiny, but perfect, footprint of this song. Alice says it’s about how romantic relationships change over time.

It starts in a minor key with a slight dissonance at the end of each line as the lyrics explore how Alice “used to see dependence as weakness”, but it resolves to a major key as she explores how a relationship can evolve from the self to the selflessness of two lives merged; where “gravity is broken” and “I held you then for fun, but now it’s what I need”. The instrumentation is sparse, with a guitar line that effortlessly cradles the fragile beauty of the main vocal, and the section with piano is simply perfect. It also features Alice’s ability to weave spectral harmonies that catch your breath.

I can only try to imagine how difficult it is to juggle motherhood with the desire to keep making music, but on the strength of this song it was worth all that extra effort to get this wonderful song out into the world.

The cover image was created by Claire Winter.

Holding Lyrics:

Love has many faces,
Romance, like Time, will fly
Dependence is a weakness
I can only hold one life
Choose your fondest memory now
Hold it far from change
Gravity is broken
We are falling into Space

Let’s go back to the start
I gave my arms to you, and nothing was this hard
Reliance is your biggest charm
Hold me like the sky holds the stars
Now I wonder what you dream
I held you then for fun, but now it’s what I need
The mystery of the moon and sea
I’ll hold you through the night if you are holding me

*You can read my review and interview with Alice about ‘Thirteen Weeks’ here.

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Review by Paul F Cook

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