As a closing statement to her 2021 album ‘Revealing’, Gizelle Smith concludes her run of singles with the release of the LP’s opening and closing tracks.
‘Agony Road’ was penned after Smith touched down in New York, with a recording session only hours away. The topic of the seven stages of grief seems a likely subject contender for an artist who has recently lost a loved one, but she admits the song, as per the album, was almost a subconscious refusal to be creatively defined by heartache.
There are no overly sentimental statements, no moments of sad reflection and no evidence of solemnity in the musical backdrop. ‘Agony Road’ proves to be a tough, streetwise pop/funk dance track incorporating jangly steel guitar riffs, electric guitar wails and shimmering tremolo.
Smith provides strong, defiant vocals as the track speeds, cruises and drifts on a road trip of its own, across a dramatically changing musical terrain.
The album’s closing track, ‘Riot Cars’ is a stark contrast. Ever since Smith penned a random line of lyrics back in 2014 following the shooting of Michael Brown and the resulting unrest in Ferguson, ‘Riot Cars’ early conception has only become more relevant over the years, given the documenting of police brutality against Black people the world over.
Smith admits the topic is a challenging but important one to present creatively. ‘History is documented through art forms and I worked hard to get the tone right.
It’s a harrowing topic but it’s necessary to keep the conversations about it open”. The result is a weighty soundtrack wrapped in undertones of panic, foreboding and unsettling hints of alarm: the song journeying towards the complex and triggering conclusion that references Gizelle Smith‘s previously written lyric, “Hands Up when they draw, Peace Sign when you fall”.