First Signs of Love No. 220 Katie Gregson-MacLeod Flaws Us With ‘Complex’

Katie Gregson-MacLeod ‘Complex’ is a heart-warming reminder that a good song can still cut through and find an audience.

First Signs of Love – Katie Gregson-MacLeod ‘Complex’

Our First Signs of Love feature is about the moment you find a new artist to love, and you simply can’t get enough. Discover more from our archive.

There is something quite punk about this first breakthrough moment from Katie Gregson-MacLeod and a reminder that ever so often social media does surface something more meaningful than a cat video.

Just like the Sex Pistols inspired anyone with or without talent to pick up a guitar, the greatest legacy of Katie Gregson-MacLeod’s moment in the sun could be that other talented singer-songwriters step forward to the mic, turn their phone to face them and hit record. After 10 years of writing this blog, we know better than most that there are plenty of equally talented artists who are just waiting to be discovered.

This is not a story about polished music, there is no elaborate video editing techniques or staging, it’s simply a girl with a voice telling a compelling story on the piano. Music should always move us, and when it truly does it takes your breath away.

“A beautiful reminder of the power of music to truly move us”

This is not unique neither does it need to be. Hearing Complex for the first time, immediately transported me back to the first moment we heard Alice Boman’s equally evocative demo ‘Waiting’ or even Rhonda Merrick’s ‘Nothing But Love‘ demo performed at our very own Takeover Festival.  Demo’s really do offer the most authentic take on a song, and a reminder that production polish isn’t always needed.

However, with those words still ringing in your ears, Complex has been re-recorded and re-released, clearly, her new label is keen to get in on the action. It’s hard to say whether the crisper production really adds anything new or better, we’ll let you decide but there is certainly no harm in having two versions of this song in the world.

Katie Gregson-MacLeod’s ‘Complex’ is a heartbreaking tale of unrequited love, obsession and vulnerability, whether you admit it or not, you can probably relate to the lyrics and the feelings it evokes. Even if the lyrics don’t get you, the increasing intensity and passion that pours from not only her voice but her heart as the song builds is hard to escape. At times her whispy vocals recall Sarah McLachlan’s smash ‘Angel‘.

MacLeod’s lyrics tell of “needing him like water” this vulnerability is counterbalanced with the desire to ‘Be the cool girl’ despite failure seeming inevitable as she admits “I’m wearing his boxers” and he thinks she’s just ‘alright’. Ah, life and young love really is complex.

The response to music like this has always fascinated me. I’ve always believed listeners fall into two camps. The first camp will dismiss this as sad and depressing, while the second will describe it as beautiful. Personally, I’ve always been in the ‘beautiful’ camp, songs like this excite me, for a typical non-emotional male, tracks like this provide a serendipitous route to emotional release, and writing this on Mental Health Awareness Day, that feels like it can only be a positive.

Critics will also point to the weak stereotype of a female pining after a man, I don’t buy that. I don’t care what age or era we live in, there will always be stories of unrequited love and to deny that is absurd. I’d much rather we continue to talk about them than bury them under a lazy hashtag of female empowerment.

While Complex deserves your ears, we also recommend taking the time to check out the previous single ‘Second Single Bed‘ it’s clear there is more to come from Katie Gregson-Macleod.

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Words Mark Knight