Courtney Paige Nelson is an American singer/songwriter originally from San Francisco but currently residing in Los Angeles. She took a very unconventional route to music as she was not allowed to sing at home while growing up. She moved to LA at 22, hoping to pick up some modeling work, and was eventually scouted for America’s Next Top Model, placing 4th overall in the 23rd cycle. Although she never made it big in the modeling industry, that is what brought her to singing – she sang on stage for the first time while in Australia.
Through music, she has been able to find meaning and purpose in the hardships and difficulties she has endured in her life. She takes her experiences to weave them into stories, giving listeners a front seat perspective on the good, the bad, and the ugly. She has developed her voice as an artist, releasing three deeply personal singles last year about mending a broken heart, her experience in and out of treatment for attempting to take her own life, and in the end, having the strength to ultimately save herself. With the release of her debut EP, Fever Dream, Courtney continues to share her story and empower others, sharing,
This debut EP is all about the past year of 2020 and how it felt like a ‘Fever Dream’ which coincidentally is the name of the EP. Each song is a chapter of something. Either a situation I dealt with, or an emotion/thought process I had during this past year. It was a hard year for everyone dealing with a pandemic. With so many emotions and things I dealt with privately, I turned all of that into what you’ll hear on this very personal EP. This was a journey of a new sound for me as an artist, so it’s very different from what I had previously put out. I took 2020 re-create myself as an artist. Who am I? What do I want to sound like? Etc…
Fever Dream gives listeners a glimpse into the situations Courtney struggled with and how she overcame them. It ties together dark electro-pop sensibilities with mesmerizing vocals and vulnerable lyrics to create a final product that is nothing short of stunning.
“Senses” leads listeners into this EP, setting the tone for the openness of raw emotion. Reverbing synths create an airy soundscape, providing the perfect complementary production to Courtney’s more prominent vocals. Courtney wrote this song about how your emotions and senses can be very intertwined, particularly when you are experiencing loss of some sort. As the lyrics traverse different memories that are triggered as a result of a sense being activated, the production becomes more robust, giving listeners a sensation of being washed over by emotion. Even as all of these memories are reactivated, the chorus does provide a peaceful sense of closure.
The EP namesake, “Fever Dream,” comes in as the second track and flips to another side of synth-laced production. It’s much heavier and grittier than the airiness from “Senses,” a direct reflection of what the song title means. ‘Fever dream’ is a term used to describe vivid dreams, often disturbing or unpleasant, that occur as a result of a rise in body temperature. To complete the reference, even though the production takes on a darker spin, the vocals still retain a dream-like essence. Courtney’s voice floats above the resounding synths as the lyrics draw upon the inner monologue Courtney struggles with in finding herself. Despite having to deal with toxic thoughts and the unpleasantness that comes with those, Courtney has found comfort in the path that she is on now – speaking her honest truth through her art.
Next up is my favorite song off of this EP. “Andy” is the ultimate F-you song and I am here for it. We hear a more stripped down production during the introduction as glistening guitar strings glide behind steadfast vocals. The lyrics call out a past relationship in a very relatable manner. This song is about trusting someone and letting your walls down, thinking that they were different, but they turn out to be just the same as everyone else who’s played you before. As the song reaches the cathartic chorus, the production reaches into new dark depths. The anger is palpable in the powerful sound. And there’s an undeniably powerful release in the reassured lyrics. If you have ever been in a relationship with someone who has made you unsure of your sense of self or second guess your self-worth, this song is for you.
Rounding out this track list of ultimate dark electro-pop productions is “Cease and Desist,” which ushers in what I consider to be the most haunting performance of the four songs. While all of the tracks all stand out on their own, I think “Cease and Desist” really amps up the level of dark and mysterious, channeling an unmatched energy that simply commands attention. If I were to star in a movie as the villain, this is the song I would want to play in the background the first time I’m introduced on screen because the that’s the sort of energy the hypnotic beat gives me. Complex vocal harmonies add another layer of allure to the track. There’s undeniable confidence as Courtney relays her resounding message – fake people need not apply.
Fever Dream is a remarkable debut EP by Courtney Paige Nelson. It solidifies the path she was already heading down as an artist with her first three singles – sharing her truth to empower not only others, but also herself. From everything Courtney has put out in the past year, it’s clear that she’s committed to that path. And with a voice like that, she’s definitely an artist to watch for because she will be going places.