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Verse Diversions: Florence and the Machine

Florence and the Machine -Album Cover for High as Hope

Florence Welch is an artist whose voice is unmistakably pure and yet equally haunting. She can take a song about a personal dispute and make it feel like it’s about you. But, then her visceral honesty will drive you to forgive and embrace her with all her imperfections. And this is why she is a fabulous verse diversion.

My hubby is a huge Florence fan. So I bought him tickets for his birthday and with them we received an awesome “free” gift - her High as Hope CD. Bonus! I took the liberty of borrowing it for the month leading up to the concert. And, to be honest, it was during those 20 or so car rides back and forth to work that I too jumped on the Florence band wagon.

Quick album review: High as Hope is a substance-free and yet substance-filled window into the what appears to be the healing interior of her soul. It's raw and yet deep with melodic originality.

A more professional review by Annie Zaleski from SPIN shared that her fourth studio album is a “...stepping stone toward a brighter future – a compass-led path forward that signals even greater things for her band and her own livelihood.”

Quick concert review: AMAZING! She sings perhaps better when live, and her presence – even when seen from across a hockey arena is just mesmerizing. And man, can she dance! After the third song in her set, she quieted the crowd with an angelic voice more matched to a humble child. She then pleaded for the audience to “remember that hope is an action. So keep showing up even if you think it’s too small or it won’t make a difference, because I promise you, it will.” And this was her; a woman speaking from a place of claimed mistakes and addressed addictions, now seeking love, forgiveness and a new beginning.

I had a really tough time choosing just one song to quote and speak about in this post, as she touches on so many hope-filled themes across all of her lyrics. From “June”, which touches on themes of needing to love, even when it is difficult, to her first radio single "Hunger” which may be inspiring my new work in progress. Florence shared in an interview that “[Hunger] is about the ways we look for love in things that are perhaps not love, and how attempts to feel less alone can sometimes isolate us more. ”

I highly recommend reading her full lyrics here. Her words are both poetic and heady in a way that made me take out my ear plugs at the concert, even though I knew most of the verses. I just needed to hear them again -with inner-ear-hair-cell-killing decibels. And yes, I wear ear plugs at concerts.

One of my favorite verses comes from the song, "100 Years":

I believe in you and in our hearts we know the truth, and I believe in love and the darker it gets the more I do. Try and fill us with your hate and we will shine a light. -Florence Welch

Even her song, "Big God", despite suggestive video choreography, points to her sense of emptiness with past relationships. What a great place to be. When we understand that we cannot be fixed on our own or by someone else, we are open to the idea of a Big God to walk along side us.

As a disclaimer: some listeners are hesitant to fully support Florence and the Machine, given her tendency towards darker themes. However, within every artist, I believe there is a ray of light that is battling to share clarity and truth with the world. Sometimes that truth isn’t always clear. But shouldn’t we give credit when they are brave, and public with their effort to figure it out?

Do you know other artists battling with their own internal storm and offering hope through the journey? Please share, because as Florence suggested, every small action can make a difference.

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