What do you get when you mix societal commentary, no nonsense feminism, lots of reverb and a sprinkling of profanity? You get Greta Isaac’s monster of a track ‘How To Be A Woman’, and let me tell you, it’s no joke.
With this track, you’re hooked from the off. We’re greeted by an arpeggiated choir sound reminiscent of Coolio, and texturally the slight distortion, vinyl-esque crackle and heavy reverb providing the listener with an intriguing yet eerie opening few seconds.
After an 8 bar system, we’re swiftly slapped in the face with the first lyric, “Look pretty, shut up”. This opening sentiment from Greta, 26, sets the narrative for the track which is none too familiar for all female listeners with a social media account, and let’s face it, working lungs. So as not to detract from the important subject matter of the opening lyrics, the production here takes a back seat with a simple bass and kit duo to support the singer’s delicate tone.
From here the track develops, harmonies lending a thickened texture to the vocals as Isaac bounces along one note saying “Remember just as long as you stay unhappy yeah, that’s good for me”. Wether she’s speaking through the lips of societal construct or an abusive partner, you choose.
I opt for the former as we launch into a pre-chorus with a real sense of rising energy. The heartbeat of the buildup comes in the form of an on-the-beat kick drum, driving us forward with eager anticipation toward the satisfaction of a chorus. But first we’ve got some serious lyrical content to swallow. “Say you’ve got my back and then you fail me” speaks to me of a young woman who is surrounded by societies unrelenting tendency to throw ideals of conventional beauty in her face at every turn, but is the first to tear her down if it even catches a whiff of individuality. “You win, I don’t know a better way to do this, is there a book on how to be a woman?” Isaac desperately cries, screaming honest relatability to anybody that’s craved guidance on coping with the incessive scrutiny of the world we live in.
Next, we arrive at the chorus. But instead of the big pop-drop we were all expecting, we get pure, accented confidence. Calling back and forth with the bass and drums we heard in the verse, Greta proclaims “All I know is I don’t ever wanna be you”. For me this screams refusal to conform to the system, a pushback on the conformity. Very punk-rock.
In classic pop style, act two propels forward in much the same way as we were treated to originally, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. However this time during the verse, much to my satisfaction, vocals are dropped for a bit of spoken word. What sounds like an excerpt from a voicemail proclaims “we live in a society that preys on our deepest insecurities in order to drive perpetual economic growth”. As we swallow that truth bomb the familiarity of verse one returns, and we plough straight back into the sub-bass backed energy rising pre-chorus once again, further coloured by wonderfully bright octaves in the backing vocals, before skipping on through to the final chorus (twice over and with an f bomb for good measure). Texturised with a familiar counter-melody first heard at the track’s genesis, the final revolutions of a chorus I’ll be whistling as I work all week book end brilliant track from this talented and inspiring young woman.
Focal points? Lyrical depth. Gripping production. Textural diversity. I know I’ll definitely be keeping on top of whatever Greta has to offer up next. What about you?