“What do I do next?” asks Megan Arnold, the London, Ontario-based artist behind Shhh, on the third track of her latest EP, Be Quite. This is among the questions which occupy the space of this album. Against a blurry backdrop, Arnold’s vocals rise up to question the indecision and anxiety that defines modern life. Filled with images of youthful decay, Be Quite’s explores the tension between the complacency of youth and the busy demands of adult life with subtlety and honesty.
Arnold, like most of us in this day and age, glimpses the uncertainty in the world. What will happen to us? How can we have control over our own lives? Do we remember to spend enough time doing things we love with people we love? It is easy, in the face of this anxiety, to fall into complacency, and let the world go by.
But Arnold refuses to do so. Where the album begins in a quiet place, Arnold’s vocals ride the music into a passionate crescendo before occupying the middle space between sleepy mornings and fervid nights. In this, we recognize that extremes are unsustainable, that life is a balance, that we all live with our regrets and grow from them. Be Quite is a process of maturity.
None of this is to ignore the singular power of each of the songs on this album. Part of the reason Arnold’s work is so successful at eliciting powerful emotional responses is that each song gives a unique insight into these tensions of modern existence. Life is not a series of vague emotions, but rather the stories of lived experiences. Arnold’s effectiveness at telling these stories is what enables Be Quite to connect with the listener. We recognize the desire to lie in bed all day, or eat hot dogs for breakfast, or the regret we feel at not calling an old friend back. This album does not hide behind vague proclamations. It takes self-loathing and anxiety head on. This is refreshing. The world could use a little more honesty.