By Cammy Thomas
Cheshire songbird Eli Cripps delivers her stirringly strong first single ‘What Did You Do?’ from upcoming E.P ‘Revelations’. The dramatic single is underpinned by pensive pianos which slowly build to a crescendo of cymbal crashes, drums, and strings, as the emotive lyrics reach their grand climax. The sparse yet tense instrumental within the songs first section, both intrigues and immerses the listener as Eli sombrely sings, “Callous on my hand, rough skin like sand, worked myself to the bone, impossible demands, crippling me from where I stand…”, beyond Eli’s melancholy delivery in those first strains, are also shades of strength, defiance, and resilience, which only serves to pique the interest and draw us in deeper. The mid-section of ‘What Did You Do?’ seemingly shifts moods, as Eli goes from introspectively acknowledging her current mindset regarding past events, to the soaring epiphany that the emotional bruises incurred, are attributed to a person who did not have the best intentions.
As Eli embodies her cathartic realisation, her voice ascends to a strong, operatic soprano key, as she asks repeatedly “What role did you play”? The effect of Eli’s powerful hums juxtaposed with the dramatic instrumental as we approach the bridge of the song, is chilling and hauntingly beautiful as the pureness and clarity of Eli’s delivery is simply breath-taking. As the song reaches its conclusion, a flurry of instruments descends upon the forest where Eli strolls wistfully as she persistently questions “What did you do”? The beauty in Eli’s pertinent question taken from the songs title, is that it can be interpreted in more than one way. We can infer that Eli is asking a rhetorical question as she disbelievingly realises the severity of the emotional bruises inflicted by the song’s antagonist, or we can conclude Eli’s question is directly asking the perpetrator what they did to enhance or enlighten her life, perhaps in the hope they realise they did absolutely nothing at all, in this regard.
The video, directed by James Twyman, accompanying the song is visually striking, and serves as the perfect interpretation of the song’s themes. Filmed in a sprawling dewy forest with large oak trees looming large, overshadowing Eli as she strides with statuesque grace dressed all in black, as her emotion is visibly poured into each syllable of the song, as the pain of reminiscing about an unpleasant time in her life is etched across her face. As Eli walks through the dense forest stopping intermittently to lean on one of the omnipresent oak trees as though an overflow of emotion is dwelling just beneath the surface, the video is intercut with a depiction of Eli’s lyrics in the form of ballet.
The dancer in the video is in direct contrast to Eli as she wears all white and appears to represent Eli’s past self as a vulnerability is projected through her languidly fluid movements. Interestingly there are points in the expression of ballet where the angelic like dancer displays a fighting stance and posture, as though she is fighting against the mistreatment hoisted upon her by the song’s antagonist, refusing to give up when it comes to reclaiming her identity and independence. The fight against negativity despite the obvious fragility makes for a powerful contrast and is evident in the dancer’s interpretation of Eli’s lyrics “I’m better off alone”. The intertwining of Eli’s soaring rendition with the visually delicate art form of ballet, tells a tale of torment and triumph, where our protagonist thankfully emerges the victor.
Photo Credits: Main picture – Emma Jonas photography, Photo 2 – Ye Kim Photography
*WATCH* the *BRAND NEW* video for the striking new single by Eli Cripps, ‘What Did You Do?’
*DOWNLOAD* & *LISTEN* to ‘What Did You Do?’ below: