Róisín O is an Irish singer, songwriter, and musician. She is signed to independent label 3ú Records. Her debut album ‘The Secret life of Blue’ was released in 2012. Here at That’s What She Heard, we’ve been asked to give our take on her recent video ‘Hold On’.
At first viewing, the staging, and the music seem at odds with each other. The song is beautiful, haunting and melodic in the way that the best cinematic love story soundtracks are. The contrast of pitches and arrangements make you feel like your standing atop a cliff shouting for Heathcliffe. With vocals that are stunning – soaring and chilling down to your bones. Containing a level of richness and pureness – especially along the high notes.
My initial expectation was for a far more cinematic video to match the strength and the feeling of the song. This muted the songs power somewhat. The video felt as though it could have been for a tame, but continuous, and unsuccessful love song. The song itself is bright and somewhat wild, full of beautiful peaks and melody arrangements that lend itself to its message of hope and strength.
The purpose of the video seems to be emphasising everyday struggles and successes. This is made all the more striking when we hear that Roisin had this to say about why she had written the song: “sometimes all you can do for someone is to be there for them and let them know that things will get better one day.”
The hopeful ethos of the song is stirring. When there is a subtle change in scene, tempo, body language, and interaction, Roisin’s voice builds and carries the strength of feeling in each scene to greater heights.
As the song begins we see one person, whose interactions with others are either, silent, moody, or threatening. We feel as if they are ‘the other’ in a world where everyone else is either perceived to know more, or that they are the ones that ‘belong’.
The drudgery of everyday life is given emphasis in the buildup of melody and key points in the lyrics throughout the song. While the song might not match the video, it’s these moments that really hit home with the feeling the song seems to want to convey, hope. The power of companionship is made key. All the while the flow and ebb of the track builds. This is made all the more striking when the musical intensity calms, and we see ‘him’ once more, alone. No music, only the background noise of the world around him to keep him company in his loneliness.
The video is sweet, and the absence of Roisin herself allows you to reflect on the meaning of the song. It can be seen as a metaphor for the power of a hand in the dark. It isn’t full of oomph or sweeping gestures. We would have liked to see a bit more, but it does what it needs to with smaller ones.
Verdict: The song is lovely, the lyrics insightful, and inspiring. With a story chock full of contemporary themes for us to de construct. Judge for yourself, but we prefer the song without visual accompaniment.