It's always refreshing when you hear an artist that's not afraid to bare their soul in their music. It's easy to tell when an artist is being truthful to both themselves and their audience, and honesty often results in music that connects with people on a level that other storytelling can't.
Music is at its most powerful whenever an artist releases a song that's 100% from the heart, especially when you get to see them perform it live - like was recently shown with the release of Taylor Swift's 10-minute version of All Too Well.
We've taken a look at some of our favourite songwriters, and what makes their music so emotionally powerful. If you're a fan of artists that don't hold back when they're writing music, then you might discover some new favourites below!
Alex The Astronaut
Alex The Astronaut's debut album, The Theory Of Absolutely Nothing, is one of the most endearing Australian releases in recent memory. It captures what it's like to be human and figuring things out as you go, and it's an album that provides comfort to all of us - we're all just working it out, one day at a time.
She's just released her new single, Growing Up, and it's as honest as any other song in her discography. Much like the title suggests, it captures the experience of growing up, and finding your place in the world. It's relatable and charming, and a reminder of Alex's power to capture the human experience through the little moments that define each of us.
Goodna MC Lisi's music captures the stories from his hometown that wouldn't otherwise get told. However, his music is simultaneously positive and honest. Rather than trying to hop on the trends that are present in hip-hop in Australia, Lisi's music has always been true to himself - and his storytelling has connected with fans both in Australia and overseas.
He's just released his new album, Perspective, and over the nine tracks on the album, Lisi captures what he's been through to get where he is today, as well as telling the stories of those around him. Lisi's an artist that focuses on bringing those around him along for the ride, and Perspective is a celebration of the community that Lisi's been building.
Taylor Swift's music has always been brutally honest - and it's why she's developed such a devoted fanbase. While her sound has been through several big shifts over the years, one of the constants of her music has been the fact that she's captured her life in her music as it truly is, rather than painting a picture that she wants the world to see.
The re-release of her past albums has solidified her standing as an honest songwriter, as we're getting to hear new versions of her past songs, as well as other songs from those time periods. Rather than trying to change the past, she's adding to it - with the recent release of an extended version of Red favourite All Too Well proving to be one of the most emotional musical moments in 2021, and indeed, Taylor's discography.
Stella Donnelly's track Boys Will Be Boys is a poignant takedown of victim blamers, and remains as powerful today as the day it was released. Stella's cheery vocal delivery and instrumentation is at odds with her lyrical content, but this only serves to make her songwriting more powerful.
Stella's debut album, Beware Of The Dogs, built on Stella's fearlessness, including opener Old Man, which takes aim at an unnamed abuser present in the Australian media. Her honesty and bravery means that every new song is an event, and we're all the better for it.
Thelma Plum's 2019 album Better In Blak, sees Thelma Plum emerging from a traumatic period in her life and coming out the other side stronger than ever. It's an album that encapsulates her experience over the last few years, with Thelma not shying away from the most isolating experiences during that time, including the fallout from an alleged incident in 2016 with a member of a Sydney band.
Speaking about writing the title track to triple j, Thelma says, “I’m so proud of that song. Not that I’m glad that happened to me but I’m really grateful that I could take something that was so traumatic and turn it into something that is quite positive." The album is a testament to Thelma's resilience, and it's an album that will stand the test of time.
UK trio The Wombats have touched on topics like love, loss and mental health in their lyrics, and lead singer Matthew 'Murph' Murphy has always been candid and honest when it comes to writing lyrics. Their new album, Fix Yourself, Not The World, is due out on January 7th, 2022, and is set to talk about the stress that the pandemic put on people, including how it affected the way people interact.
The band's new single, Everything I Love Is Going To Die, is a reminder to be present in the moment, because they're not going to last forever. While on the surface it might not be the most joyful of songs, it's actually a refreshing reminder to be present, because you don't want to take existence for granted.
Flowerkid's music has always come from the heart, as he initially turned to music to vent. His songwriting is an emotional balm for those that are struggling with their own identity, as he candidly discusses his own transition, as well as the response from those around him.
His debut EP, everyone has a breaking point, captures his transition in real-time, with his voice deepening throughout the six-track project. It's an impactful project, and one that will make a real difference for many listeners who aren't always represented in the music industry.
Minnesota singer Corbin only knows how to be honest in his music, and he often lets it do the talking for him. He's an artist that doesn't tend to do much press, and the release of his 2017 album Mourn captured the image of an artist that had discovered popularity as a teenager, and the fear and paranoia that followed since. It's an intense listen.
His most recent release, 2021's Ghost With Skin, is just as honest - albeit more hopeful. It's an album that explores love and loss, capturing the pain of heartbreak while not shying away from his own involvement in the ending of his relationship. There's no rose-tinted filter in sight with Corbin's lyrics - what you hear is exactly how he's feeling when he's writing music.
Little Simz has always been honest in her music, but her most recent album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, takes things to a new level. It's a vulnerable and personal album, with album highlight I Love You, I Hate You talking about her fractured relationship with family, and it's an example of how strength can be found in opening up to the world.
Speaking about the album to NME, Little Simz says, “It definitely was not easy. I struggled with it because it is very personal, like having someone read your diary. But I think I understood that this is bigger than me and I know this has the potential to help someone. Above all, it’s me saying my truth and I think there’s great power in that. There’s great strength in vulnerability, so I persevered and I’m really happy I did.” Her music is often autobiographical in nature, meaning every lyric hits home for those that need it most.