photo credit – Davey Pentecost


Following on from the enormous support for her recent single ‘The Weeping‘, produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner, which was praised by the likes of CLASH, WONDERLAND, Blogotheque, PASTE Magazine and so many more, Brighton-based artist Bess Atwell has now returned to share the acoustic live video for her newest offering.

Recorded in a scenic part of Tuscany, Italy, with David Pentecost on electric guitar and backing vocals, this new live rendition of ‘The Weeping; highlights the original’s raw and tender lyrics throughout. Adding in the warm and cinematic landscape, these new visuals bring a richer and more intimate perspective to her latest release.

Speaking about the new live performance, she said, “We filmed this live version of The Weeping in Tuscany, where I’d been shooting several music videos. We were staying in a beautiful villa that was surrounded by farmland so we  decided to take the opportunity to do a special, stripped back performance – just me on classical guitar and David Pentecost on electric guitar and backing vocals. I wrote The Weeping at sunset and the song references that, so I thought it would be a nice touch to shoot the session as the sun was going down over the Tuscan landscape. Shooting at sunset doesn’t give you much time, or room for error, but as it’s such a personal song I wanted the performance to feel raw so I was okay with that.”

The origins of ‘The Weeping’ stem from Bess’ recollection of a potent vignette from her childhood, growing up alongside her sister who has severe autism. “I saw us as two halves, but two halves of a whole” she sings atop deliberately unfussy instrumentation and production. Although Atwell’s knack for capturing the nuance and minutiae of the human experience in her songwriting is well documented, in both ‘The Weeping’ and ‘Sylvester.’ this takes on a new resonance. Shortly following both tracks recording at Dessner’s studio in upstate New York, she received her diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder, bringing with it a wave of validation for her both personally and artistically.

“I knew The Weeping was in me, I just wasn’t sure when it would decide to come out. I only knew I was writing it when I got to the second verse and realised I finally had a vantage point. My younger sister is autistic, the kind of non-verbal autism that requires 24/7 care, and this track is mostly about what it was like to grow up with her. The Weeping explores the parallels between me and my sister which is more interesting when you consider that I wrote it before I found out that I’m also autistic, this year – albeit, in a far less debilitating, disabling way.” Atwell explains, “When we were children, my sister had a toy fish tank that would light up and play music when you hit the button. I used to fall asleep next door to the sound of her replaying the toy’s melancholic piano lullaby. At just seven years old I had some understanding of the loneliness and confusion that came with being unable to communicate effectively, and stuck in your own strange world. I felt, viscerally, the attempts to self soothe with every hit of the button as the song began to play again.”

Upon the release of her ‘Already, Always album – Bess Atwell’s missive as a songwriter became fully formed, marking her as one of Britain’s most assured young voices. At the fore of the expertly judged collection is the pairing between Atwell’s crystalline vocals and her raw lyrical depth, which quickly drew comparisons to Marika Hackman and Julia Jacklin. Alongside wide critical acclaim, and with its songs racking up a combined 20 million streams, the release drew fast champions in BBC 6 Music across multiple playlisted singles.

Whilst careful not to romanticise her own tumult and trauma, it’s undeniable that the wellspring of Atwell’s inspiration is her lived experience, her upbringing marked by a wider family life impacted by mental health struggles. This, alongside her own challenges communicating, fuelled Atwell’s need to express herself through music. The result is deeply personal and emotionally charged explorations of her own experiences and the complexities of human relationships, as exemplified on album singles like ‘Nobody‘ and ‘Co-op.’ Atwell’s lyrics also weave pastoral and abstract imagery, using natural motifs to convey themes of both conflict and violence, as well as beauty and defiance – as captured in another album standout ‘Time Comes In Roses.’ Alongside her original music, the album also features a haunting rendition of Robin Pecknold from Fleet Foxes’ demo ‘Olivia, In A Separate Bed,’ which was released with Pecknold’s blessing. With a unique ability to explore the profound in the familiar, 2024 will see Bess Atwell continue this essential work, with these earlier songs foreshadowing much more from her on the near horizon. 

Listen to ‘The Weeping’ on all platforms here:

Bess Atwell is also set to play a string of headline shows in June, including at London’s Union Chapel, followed by support slots with The National, dates below.

Bess Atwell live dates:

06 June | Manchester, UK | Band On The Wall
07 June | London, UK | Union Chapel
08 June | Bristol, UK | Thekla
25 June | Vienna, AT | Stadthalle w/ The National
27 June | Bonn, DE | Kunstirasen w/ The National
11 July | Edinburgh, UK | Edinburgh Castles w/ The National


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