“I really feel like I just hit a specific intersection between what I've always wanted to say, and my skill catching up with what I've always wanted to say,” WILLOW tells Apple Music about empathogen. "That's exactly how I feel about this whole album.” Over the course of her nearly decade-and-a-half-long music career, she’s moved through various genre spaces freely. Yet those who enjoyed her recent full-length forays into artfully angsty post-punk will likely find the vibe shift here more drastic than any jagged guitar rock riff. Conveniently albeit loosely categorized as jazz, these dozen tunes showcase yet another side of her maturing craft. Despite the inherent softness of acoustic compositions like “ancient girl,” WILLOW’s strengths burst through each and every time. Informed to some extent by the presence of guests like Jon Batiste and St. Vincent, two vanguard artists who consistently push against convention, empathogen gives her ample space to explore and expand. Her lyrics often feel simultaneously confessional and poetic, her voice thick with emotional resonance on “down” and “symptom of life.” Traces of 2022’s sonically tougher linger via the frenetic pop-rock fusions of “between i and she” and “false self.” Still, it’s clear that she’s leveled up on all fronts, perhaps most poignantly on “b i g f e e l i n g s,” a finale as grand as any in her discography. “It's trying to bring you in, even though it is extremely complicated,” she says. “Obviously it's a lot to take in when you listen to it for the first time, but there are moments that you really get into that rhythm.”

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