Jellyfish is Lizzie Esau’s first release of 2023, and comes in the wake of a very successful and exciting 2022 for the Newcastle-based independent singer-songwriter. Last year, she not only released four strong singles, but played some major live dates, including Radio 1’s Big Weekend in the summer.

All of Lizzie’s singles to date have been strong, engaging, brilliantly-written, and just that little bit different. Although there are clear nods to her alt-rock inspirations, her songs are always experimental in some way, with liberal sprinklings of creativity. This approach seems to have given Lizzie an edge, and impressive success recently. As well as the Big Weekend, she has supported Baby Queen, The Amazons and Upsahl, performed at 110above festival, and had some major radio airtime. Lizzie says her influences include Wolf Alice, Beabadoobee, and Radiohead – there’s that diversity and experimentalism again.

In Jellyfish, Lizzie’s creativity and innovation feature at a number of points. The track opens – from the first split second, no dead air here – with four bars of an infectiously-fuzzy, chunky guitar riff, which has a strong ’70s feel. There’s a subtle sense of unease during those four bars, introduced cleverly by the way the guitar hesitates briefly – before repeating. 

Then, Lizzie’s spoken-word vocals jump in on top of crisp drums, instantly bringing us forward to 2023. It’s utterly contemporary, and also a very wise decision to bring in the vocals so quickly: she has such a great presence and a really versatile way of delivering her lyrics, so it makes absolute sense to ensure she’s always front and centre of her recordings.

The launch into the chorus is a thing of beauty; you feel the verse reach a precipice after a paranoid, jittery section of “I don’t suppose you know, don’t suppose you know … don’t suppose you care, do you?” – there’s a slight pause and then the tumble into a soaring refrain: “Oh you see, it’s so typical of me, just to be here like you always wanted …”

Structurally, Jellyfish is interesting and untypical. Another great feature of the song, and one I love, is the variations of tempo – the song goes from it’s usual double-time into a standard 4/4 in the middle-8 section, and then back again. This allows the song to speak for itself in many ways: you can listen to it on a purely musical level and still hear the theme developing and playing out. You can also focus on the lyrics – which are clever, subtle and really enjoyable.

The “jellyfish” reference doesn’t overtly appear until later in the track. Here, the theme of the song comes into sharper focus: Lizzie is musing on being a pushover, a people pleaser, and the self-frustration that comes with that. But although there are angry elements to this track, it’s also innately positive. There’s a message of motivation; Lizzie is self-analysing but not self-pitying; she’s aware of her limitations but determined to push through and move onwards and upwards. With her music, and the inspiring power it always contains, she’s certainly doing that.

Check out her new track ASAP, and then – if you can – go see her in person. Lizzie will shortly be playing a string of live dates, supporting modernlove. on their UK dates in April, and already has 5 festivals confirmed over the summer (including Truck, YNOT and Kendal Calling) – full details below.

Live dates

January 31st – Sheffield, Record Junkie

February 1st – Nottingham, Rough Trade

February 2nd – Northampton, Black Prince

February 3rd – Newcastle, Cluny 2

February 4th – Bristol, Louisiana

April 6th-14th – Supporting modernlove.

Confirmed summer festivals

Kendal Calling
110 Above





Words by Phil Taylor