Olivia Dean – Carmen

Olivia Dean has shared another single from her upcoming album Messy and this time, it’s a song that descendants of the Windrush generation will appreciate. However, I think the lyrics are versatile enough to appeal to those who love and appreciate the strength of their grandmothers.

The artist’s latest single is a soul-pop offering that features steel pan drums and horns to make for an interesting sound. I wouldn’t describe it as catchy, but there’s something about it that makes one want to listen to it one more time.

First time on a plane / Eighteen, you came / You found a door and held it open / No way to know how to make a home / In someone else’s motherland / You transplanted a family tree / And a part of it grew into me” – the first verse sees her introduce us to the strength and courage her grandmother had to make a life for herself and her family in a foreign land.

In the chorus, she sings about her grandmother’s strength and the things she never had, like a “jubilee,” which she promises to throw for her.

Speaking about the song in a press release, she says, “Carmen is a love letter to my granny and an ode to the wind rush generation. I wanted to write a song of celebration that encapsulated the beautiful cross-culture that was created by the Caribbean community in the UK. Steel pan is such a powerful and emotional instrument for me so having that feature throughout the song makes it that extra special. I am a product of her bravery and I want her to be remembered forever!”

Serving as the album’s closing track, the song is a continuation of Dean’s mission to empower young women through her compelling storytelling and powerhouse pop vocals. Prior to the release of “Carmen,” Dean had shared singles “Dive,” “Danger” and “UFO” to tease Messy – out June 30 via EMI records.

On the album’s sound, Dean says, “Even with the sonics of the record, I’ve left a lot of sound in there, of talking, of the piano pedals. I like that it sounds human. On the title track, there’s a layer of me doing mouth trumpet sounds that was just meant to be a placeholder and I was like let’s just keep it! There’s no rules!”