Miya Folick’s bio on her label Terrible Records says, “I play music because forming thoughts into sounds blends emotional and rational thought in a way that turns me on.” Her new album Premonitions, her full-length major label debut, has plenty of both emotional and rational thought.
Folick was raised going to a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist church — an experience that exposed her to the idea that people can be inherently good — and her music translates that sentiment into a feeling that is deeply palpable. Throughout Premonitions, Folick holds herself to a high standard. Maybe it’s one that is unreachable, or maybe it’s one she’s reached and doesn’t realize it yet. Whether or not she’s lived up to the standard she’s set for herself, it’s very clear throughout the entirety of this album that she is definitely trying.
Premonitions seems best defined as the coalescence of strength and humility: the strength to put yourself first and the humility to be conscious of your shortcomings. If you asked Folick, she’d probably say the two are inseparable. The 20-something year old was trained in classical music when she was younger, and her voice carries an incredible sense of authority and grandeur as a result. Mix all of that with the pulsating production featured throughout the album and Premonitions becomes an album about recognizing your own strength while having a damn fun time doing it.
Co-produced by Folick with additional help from Justin Raisen (Angel Olsen, Marissa Nadler) and Yves Rothman, the instrumentals behind Folick’s vocals range from a frenetic dance beats one minute to somber synth-driven riffs the next. Whatever track, the production and Folick’s performance work in tandem to make each individual track a work that exists in a world entirely of its own while also remaining as a sliver of her attempt to explain the world around her.
Many of the songs on Premonitions’ words were written as if Folick was working on an advice column for the tail-end of the Millennial generation. Whether her advice stems from personal experiences, people in her life or simply from her imagination, Folick’s lyrics ring out with unbridled honesty. Folick manages to bring together her underlying adolescent uncertainty and a breathtaking level of awareness to make a project that never stops asking and answering questions about what it means to navigate the nuances of shifting relationships with friends, families and partners.
Folick covers a lot of ground on Premonitions. One minute she’s singing about asking for forgiveness (“Thingamajig”), the next she’s ending a relationship in exchange for personal growth (“Cost Your Love”) and a bit later she’s discovering that leaving parties brings her more joy than the party itself (“Leave the Party,” which might be one of the most relatable songs on the album).
While the first half of Premonitions has no shortage of candid moments, Folick really hits her stride on the second half. It’s a change of pace on varying levels: the production compliments the content and energy of the lyrics incredibly well, and the lyrics themselves seem to be some of Folick’s most raw and poetic to date. On “Deadbody,” Folick sings of refusing to be silenced in a time when women’s voices need to be heard more than ever. Folick’s matter-of-fact delivery makes her words even more impactful when she sings, “Don’t want your money for my silence / I don’t care who knows your name / Don’t tell your friends that I’m lying to convince them I’m insane.” As a closer, “What We’ve Made” starts with a melody similar to a children’s nursery rhyme, pulling up a feeling of nostalgia for a time when maybe none of life’s worries existed, until the chorus comes in with Folick’s vocals screaming out in reminiscence: “To be young / To be young / All of it is beautiful / See me young / See me young / And we’ll make it beautiful.”
There is no simple way to find your voice while trying to sort through the clutter of others, but on Premonitions, Folick takes monumental strides in answering the questions she has. From this point on, it’s just a matter of accepting those answers, finding new questions to ask and continuing to grow as both an artist and a person — it seems that her potential on both fronts is astounding.