Stella Talpo unpicks compulsion in the soul-infused “Water”
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  • Post published:10/04/2022
  • Post last modified:10/04/2022

On the single artwork for Stella Talpo’s new track “Water”, we see a profile shot of the London-based artist, but it’s distorted. The bottom half of her face is obscured by a glass cup; it divides her profile so it looks like we’re seeing Stella in two different moods at once, one part eyeing the camera in a pensive gaze, the other, tongue-out and nonchalant.

It’s a perfect shot for a track that navigates a conflicting and tangled emotional experience, that of self-destruction. “Water is about how enticing self-sabotage can be,” Stella says, “playfully and knowingly giving into the compulsive behaviours that are actually self-destructive but gratifying and not knowing you’ve gone too far until it’s too late.”

The track is intimate and reflective, almost lonely, with lush but sparse instrumentation that allows Stella’s rich vocals to breathe and rise through the track. We hear the track’s protagonist push others away, in fact, she sometimes sounds more anxious than contemplative, spotlighting the disillusionment one can find themselves in after engaging in self-destructive behaviours: “is my fuel my addiction / or my addiction my fuel?”

Stella credits Billie Holiday and Nirvana as influences, but “Water” has a specific, luxurious soulful texture to it, akin to artists like Amy Winehouse or Jorja Smith. She worked with jazz and electronic producer Lewis Moody to create the track, and she attributes Moody for helping her develop confidence in her ability. “He really helped me come out of my shell and realise that I wanted to make music that energised people. I wanted to feel alive playing live and I wanted listeners to feel it too.”

From “Water” alone, it’s clear that Stella is vocally capable of rousing a crowd, but the track itself is best suited to a moment of intimate, quiet introspection. It shines because it encapsulates well a feeling of being trapped alone with your bad decisions. Towards the end of the track, Stella repeats “falling for this far too long, falling for this far too long,” vocalising the way your thoughts can loop and spin around your head, causing a spiral.

Stella doesn’t stay trapped with this emotion, though, nor does she abandon it completely. The track is told looking backwards, from a place of some healing. Stella adds, “”Water” really is the pivotal track that outlines where I was and where I chose to go instead. A part of me doesn’t want to fully let that side go though.”

It seems Stella isn’t happy settling for a black-and-white understanding of her emotions. Truly, life is filled with all sorts of colours and hues, so it’s a wise choice to embrace that vibrancy, as she does on “Water”. Ultimately, it’s exciting to see what colours Stella will use from her palette next.

“Water” is out now. Find Stella Talpo on Instagram.

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