After taking a brief writing hiatus, ‘Tiny Fires’ represents a new bullet in Johnson’s sonic arsenal, a profoundly impressive new offering from an artist who just gets better and better.
Wind back a few years to 2015. BBC Introducing Lincolnshire have just received an EP from an relatively unknown singer-songwriter who immediately drew the attention of industry professionals and new listeners alike; all enchanted by his irresistible storytelling and captivatingly addictive melodies. Fast forward 5 years, a record deal and several thousands of streams later, and he’s back with his best work yet.
Passionately narrated in almost monologic fashion, Tiny Fires opens to a crisp knopfler-style guitar sequence, nestled above blankets of delicately crooning synths as Johnson’s vocals bend and contort in an impressive melodic display. As the verse acquires a swell of warbled backing vocals, we’re hurled into an elegantly reticent pre-chorus, oozing with ambient textures and howling reverb-tails. The instrumental simplicity serves only to accentuate the chilling sense of desperation in the lyrics, reflecting the notion of being in a state of desperation, trapped by the feeling dejection.
Widening into a compellingly exhilarating climax, the final chorus personifies the songs unrelenting charm, where intuitive engineering, passionate songwriting and masterful instrumentation collide in a profound show of sonic sophistication.
Speaking on the origin of the single, Johnson states that ‘Tiny Fires’ came from a pretty difficult time. Sat in my Riverside flat in Bristol during my first year at university. I became aware of the fact that I was struggling to grasp the emotion of happiness as easily as I used to. At the time, mental health at Bristol university was awful and In the space of a year and a half, 12 students had taken their own lives in the silence of their student halls. I decided to write a song about a belief that there was something worth waiting for. I wanted to show my resilience against such a negative force that seemed to be trying to plague my own existence in the same way it did them. I wanted to make reference to fire, due to its beautiful yet dangerous nature. Given the right conditions, it’s completely unstoppable. Back in uni I wanted to feel a happiness as resilient as this, I still don’t, nobody does but I know there’s so much worth waiting for.“
I couldn’t agree more with that final statement, and in a way, it represents the bones of this project perfectly. As the first single in what will form an exciting new EP in collaboration with Joey Walker from Natural Habitat Studios, Tiny Fires is just the tip of what is a gigantic iceberg headed straight to your playlist folder.