Essex-based singer/songwriter, Mabes, first picked up the guitar aged 15 and started playing at venues in her hometown of Billericay. Taking influences from artists like Laura Marling, John Mayer, Kasey Musgraves, Billy Joel, and Bon Iver, Mabes prides herself on her true, honest lyrics and folk-country sound.
With a strong desire to perform at a young age and after meticulously planned sitting room renditions of classic pop hits at the family home, a young Mabes was quickly whisked off to Sylvia Young’s Theatre School. Though surprisingly, Sylvia Young awoke in Mabes a desire not for the drama of the stage but rather the quiet, contemplative art of songwriting. “I guess doing the singing lessons there I was always the one that preferred my own covers of music rather than the musical theatre focus of the school. So then I decided I wanted to play the guitar and I began writing songs in my bedroom.”
Like her hero Laura Marling, Mabes’s music is filled with a yearning for the English pastoral, road-weary, and melancholic but not without its challenges. “I love things that prick your ears up and are intriguing. Not sticking to basic time signatures and scales.” Whilst juggling a job for a construction company, Mabes hbegan releasing her debut tracks in 2019, which were stripped back acoustics of delicate vocals and guitar picks; from the reflective lyrics of Gone and Saint to the gentle ambient pop of Free. An old soul in a next generation artist, Mabes has a talent of real song-writing and has humility abounding to go with it.
Following her debut album release in 2019, titled Wait & See, she is back this year with an EP, titled Too Young to Love. The EP contains four beautifully plucked songs, ending in “Catch 22,” which is a stunningly melancholic reflection of a fading love affair.
Keeping with her signature style, Mabes maintains a simple, stripped back production for this song. From the satisfyingly smoothed guitar plucks to the hushed and delicate vocals, Mabes creates a somber atmosphere that is matched by the sadness of the lyrics. She struggles to come to terms with where she stands in her relationship with her spouse and with herself. Even as the pace of the guitar backing and her vocals pick up when she sings about being happy, the happiness is short-lasted as she realizes that she fears being lonely, having regret, and making the wrong choice.
The catch 22 comes into play when she comes to the realization that she’s found herself in a situation where she can’t win. Does she learn to be comfortable by her own, meaning she sticks with her decision to break off the relationship? Or does she continue to cast doubt on her decision, because she wants someone to hold in bed at night? However she decides to proceed, she just feels stuck and her indecisiveness is apparent throughout, making this an beautifully bittersweet song.
You can listen to “Catch 22” and the rest of Too Young to Love today!