PREMIERE: JAMES BILLETT – “WHAT WILL THEY SAY ABOUT US”
The English singer-songwriter is back with folksy new single “What Will They Say About Us”.
Back in 2018, singer-songwriter James Billett and director Toby Lewis Thomas flew to New York to make a video on the social issues plaguing not only America, but the entire world. Taking to an ageing motel, the ultimate symbol of American nostalgia, Billett paints a picture of a nation crumbling before our very eyes, a place where police brutality, racial abuse and sexual assaults often go unchallenged.
“One of these days I’m gonna fly myself to the moon and never return,” prophesises Billett, who’s earned musical kudos from the likes of Rollacoaster cover star John Legend and Elton John. Breathy and beautiful, the UK-born singer’s soft-yet-crushing vocals soar over folky guitars and sirens throughout the track in a nod to classic country – while still twisting itself into something much more modern entirely.
A frustration is held under the surface of Billett’s tranquil composure, illustrating how these long-held beliefs can be fought with reason as well as rage, and casting himself in the role of fireside bard, Billett seeks to tell the stories and legends of others from an observational point of view.
“I wrote ‘What Will They Say About Us’ because I couldn’t help but write it,” Billett tells us. Though written years before the death of say George Floyd, Breonna Taylor or Tony McDade, the song is the case in point of a never-ending cycle of brutal injustices. “The world today seems unrecognisable at times, and this felt like a release of the pent up frustration from watching the world fall into patterns we’ve seen too many times before.”
For this release, Billett has also partnered with Black Minds Matter UK. The organisation aims to provide free mental health services across the UK for Black families and to make mental health topics relevant and accessible for all Black people in the UK. You can find a donation link here.
Catch the track’s captivating video below, “What Will They Say About Us” will be available for streaming on July 17th.