If your heart doesn’t break hearing Invisible, it must be made of stone. Grace Davies’ return is a spellbinding depiction of self-doubt, as brutal as it is beautiful, as uncomfortable as it is addictive.
Set to Grace’s trademark piano and haunting electronics, Invisible is a masterful mix of subtlety and straight-talking, an instant classic on which hard-hitting lyrics are sensually sung and the music is mesmerizing. When the sound drops out to just a ticking clock, a nod to dark nights of insomnia, Grace’s shimmering vocals send a chill up your spine.
“I set out to write the saddest song possible and I think I succeeded,” says Grace. “No happy ending, no glimmer of hope because that’s how I felt at the time. Every single word is the truth. My lyrics are like diary entries. Whatever I’m feeling comes tumbling out, however horrible. Writing that song was like therapy, I’d never written lyrics that raw before and as soon as I did, I began to feel better. I knew straight away I had my first single. I hope the song helps other people in the same situation as much as it did me. Share the sadness and move on.”
The first in a series of singles and an EP set for release in 2020, Invisible marked a fresh start for the pink-haired pianist, composer and producer, an independent artist the first five years of her career and still only 22. But it also harks back to her stint on X Factor in 2017, when she came runner-up to Rak-Su, having performed her own songs at every stage of the competition.
Her fans from back then – tens of millions have viewed her videos on YouTube, millions more fallen for her DIY covers on Soundcloud - will be delighted to have Grace back after two years of self-imposed exile.
Grace may suffer from spells of self-doubt, but a steely determination has characterized her career to date. Brought up in Langho in the Lancashire countryside, she sat her first dance exam aged three and performed in musicals throughout primary school. Aged 11, playing Nancy in Oliver, she was sure her future lay in performing.
With no nearby venues to play, at 15, she began performing covers at food festivals, which led to other bookings, and, at 16, a weekly gig singing jazz at a fine dining restaurant. While at college studying music and performing arts, having taught herself piano via online tutorials, Grace wrote and recorded My Kingdom, an EP featuring local session players, which was mastered at Abbey Road.
Self-released when Grace was 17, its title track was championed by BBC Introducing and 6 Music and helped her find the management team she’s still with today. A plan was in place to release more music independently when X Factor approached the teenager to audition for the show.
Following being signed – a deal stuck only after Grace and her management were given full creative control – she found herself alone in London.
Writing Invisible brought Grace’s spark back and attending writing camps in London and Finland, including an all female camp in Stockholm, boosted herself-esteem. Extensive time in the studio followed with some co-writers, all of whom were handpicked by Grace, notably Lauren Aquilina, one of her teen idols.
A true artist, Grace oversees every element of her music. She’s written 200 songs in her time away, writing for other artists as well as herself. The experience has seen her confidence soar.
Invisible was co-written with Lauren Aquilina, one of her teen idols, and Adam Argyle (Dua Lipa, James Arthur), before it was completed in Sweden with the producer Elias Kapari.
“The essence of Invisible is just me at piano, but to give it an edge Elias added some Scandi strangeness,” says Grace. “It’s 80% classic singer/songwriter, 20% Swedish pop.”
With Adam, Grace wrote Amsterdam, a bewitching, strings-soaked piano ballad in which the city plays the part of a temptress trying to take her man.
“Amsterdam is my Jolene,” says Grace. “I wrote it when my boyfriend was in Amsterdam and hadn’t texted me. I was trying not to be the psycho girlfriend, but I couldn’t stop myself. I imagined him meeting someone or just falling in love with the city. The song could be about either.”
With Lauren and Johan Lindbrant, Grace co-wrote Addicted To Blue, about long distance relationships.
“My boyfriend at the time lived 3 hours away, which is far enough not to see each other often,” says Grace. “The song talks about the appreciation of a long distance relationship and how amazing it is that someone can give you a reason to be sad when they leave - if that makes sense. Like, I’m happy when we’re together, but I also like not having you there all the time, getting on my tits! A happy medium.”
Just A Girl came together in London with, incredibly, two men - Duck Blackwell and Andrew Jackson (Rag N Bone Man, Dua Lipa).
“I’d come up with bits of the song at home, pitched it to them and was blown away by their support,” says Grace. “They loved the sentiment as much as me. That session is a special memory; that two men helped me make such a female empowering song is so cool.”
Now Grace is returning on her own terms, poised and ready to re-take the stage in 2020 with her unmistakable voice and fearless song writing.