I Can't Let Go

Suki Waterhouse

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I Can't Let Go Review

by Marcy Donelson

In between her acting roles in movies such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016), the miniseries The White Princess (2017), and A Rainy Day in New York (2019), London native Suki Waterhouse pursued a singing career with a series of self-released singles. Hazy, pining songs including 2016's "Brutally" and 2018's "Valentine" collected millions of streams while she drew comparisons to acts like Mazzy Star and Lana Del Rey, eventually leading to a record deal with Sub Pop. Waterhouse makes her full-length debut on the label with I Can't Let Go, an album concerned with processing relationships and what went wrong. It was produced by Grammy nominee Brad Cook, who built his reputation with bands like Bon Iver and Hiss Golden Messenger before collaborating with such projects as Waxahatchee, Snail Mail, and Hurray for the Riff Raff leading up to his work with Waterhouse. I Can't Let Go opens with the words "I can't forget that night/You said I looked like Suzi Quatro in the morning light" set to gentle sustained keys and strummed guitar. The song picks up steady drums, additional vocal tracks, piano, and reinforced atmosphere in time for a chorus that makes overtures to an object of affection, while its melancholy, resigned tone implies that it didn't play out as hoped. A series of ill-fated romantic narratives follow, arranged with layers of twinkling, humming synths, echoey guitars, spare drum kit, and frowning vocals, with Waterhouse sometimes the leaver and sometimes the one left standing in the rain. Even the relatively uptempo, catchy "Bullshit on the Internet" has her tormented by a love interest's past relationship, as chronicled on social media ("When they want you back together, like a movie/And I wonder, is there any room for me?"). While heartbreak and doubt are constants here, songs including "Wild Side" add touches of country twang, and "Slip" is among tracks that dwell in a breathy high range that illuminates lyrics like "I slipped into my heart alone/I slip out of here a ghost." There are no happy endings as I Can't Let Go closes on a symbolic howl delivered by plaintive piano and staticky guitar effects.

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