On Liberosis, Yorke’s elegant and heartfelt debut EP, 21-year pop prodigy Grace Hughes gets to the true emotional core of coming of age. The EP traces the turbulence of youth, with Yorke exploring the messiness of moving from adolescence into adulthood, and most crucially, the liberation found in discovering who you are and what you want. While bursting with moments of raw catharsis and vulnerability, Liberosis is also a work of sleek, sophisticated alt-pop that no doubt places Yorke in the league of pop ingenues such as Lorde, Clairo and Ruel.
The EP was written last year, during an extremely prolific songwriting period for Yorke. She spent a year writing and attended countless studio sessions until she finally had the seven tracks that perfectly distilled her experience of growing up, as well as all the wild, unsteady emotions that result.The EP features the work of producer Xavier Dunn (Jack River), mixer Mark Rankin (Adele, Florence and The Machine), writer, producer and mixer Andy Hopkins (Coterie, Emalia) and mixer Chris Collins (Skeggs, Middle Kids), among others. Yorke says Liberosis is a reflection on “letting go, becoming more certain of yourself [and] falling in and out of love”.
Liberosis opens with the dreamy and cinematic “Promise”, a song that reconsiders the perspective of Cal Hockley, the man often characterised as the villain of 1997 romance film Titanic. “You’re haunting me, out of my reach” Yorke sings over lush, grand synths. It’s the only song off the EP not inspired from Hughes’ own experiences.
Yorke has been writing songs for most of her life. At age eight, she was filling up notebooks with her own original love songs. As a teenager growing up in Byron Bay’s thriving music scene, she began entering and winning local songwriting contests. After high school, she was trying to find a balance between music and university but decided that her passion – despite others’ apprehensions – was worth the risk.
Lead single “Treading Water” was inspired by this impasse. “It’s about feeling like yes [this career] is a struggle, both emotionally and financially, but I’m still doing what I love, and [knowing] I’m tenacious enough to get through it,” she says. Co-written by Sam Burtt (Sam Phay), produced by Andy Hopkins and mixed by Chris Collins, “Treading Water” is an empowering and heartfelt ode to perseverance, which pairs rousing pop hooks with immersive instrumentation. The song was written to inspire others to be resilient and stick with their passions, especially during moments of hopelessness and hardship.
Yorke balances these sensitive, bittersweet moments on Liberosis with the blissful “Nights We Waste”, a party anthem that she says embraces “not taking everything so seriously for a second”.
Album closer “Don’t Let The Lights Go Out” sees her again collaborating with an Australian producer, this time the multi-instrumentalist and electronic-pop force LANKS. The restrained yet powerful track is a masterful study of the end of a relationship, when resignation has kicked in but longing remains.
Yorke crashed onto our radar in 2018, with her propulsive, break-through debut single “First Light”. She quickly followed it up in 2019 with soaring “Wake The City” and the tender “Thought I Could”; the latter of which has amassed over a million streams and was added to triple J rotation. She has also recently scored support slots for British pop balladeer Lewis Capaldi and teen pop legend Ruel, sold out her 2019 ‘Thought I Could’ tour, and featured as a guest vocalist for beloved EDM producers Paces and Kilter.
Yorke’s debut EP covers an extensive emotional terrain, but she always circles back to images of fire and light. Which makes sense: Liberosis is an exhilarating portrait of the intense, blazing emotions and life-altering experiences found in the transitional period between youth and adulthood. Liberosis burns bright, and brilliantly captures the power found in asserting one’s independence.