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  • Karlee Skipper

Review: "Campfire" - Victoria Staff


Victoria Staff’s latest single, “Campfire,” is a deeply vulnerable track about navigating life after sexual assault. The song was written from her own experience when she was sixteen years old. Writing this track was a cathartic journey that helped her process this traumatic experience and the complex emotions that come with it. Furthermore, Staff provides a voice to any victims that have been silenced by their abuser and are afraid to speak up. Regarding the song, Staff stated that she felt there were plenty of songs about “overcoming trauma and being the bigger person.” However, she wanted to create a song for the survivors who are still “in the eye of the storm.” A song that can be a sense of comfort and security while they are still experiencing the pain and are unable to seek closure. The lyrics throughout the track convey the thoughts that run through survivors’ minds and brings to light the feelings of anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. Staff also divulges the heartbreaking reality that, sometimes, survivors think they have finally found peace, only for something to trigger their trauma. Throughout the song, she illustrates the heart-wrenching flashbacks to the night of her assault. Her somber yet poetic lyrics convey the grief that overwhelms her heart. However, she also does not hold back the anger and disgust she feels toward her attacker. This is her powerful way of reclaiming the narrative and reducing the abuser to the worthless, shameful person they are. Staff portrays her emotions in a brilliant way that evokes feelings of sorrow and anger simultaneously.

Every single lyric throughout the track is brilliantly written, making it impossible to pinpoint my favorite line. But the overall theme captures the aftermath of assault accurately. Staff sings, “I’m not bruised, not scarred, not hurt// But all the placed you have touched me, I am burned// Threw out all my clothes when I learned that they were singed// Built a campfire, then you threw me in.” The first three lines show that she is not damaged beyond repair, and that she is able to heal. However, there was a part of herself that was lost during the trauma, and she had to throw it all away. Then, the fourth line reveals the clever hook—that similar to a warm campfire, her abuser made her feel safe and comforted, until they betrayed her trust and pushed her into the destructive flames. When most sexual assaults are by someone the victim knows, this is, unfortunately, a very common feeling. Staff’s metaphor is a clever comparison that effortlessly illustrates the betrayal and hurt victims often experience. Then, in the second half of the chorus, she reveals her anger as she sings, “It’s like you held me tight, just so you could let me go// And you made me burn everything I’ve ever known// When you grabbed things that were never yours to hold// Hope you burned your hands when you got me all alone.” The misery her abuser put her through makes her livid when she thinks back on the traumatic experience. She now hopes that, when they assaulted her, they were also hurt in the end. In the third chorus, there is a significant lyric change to the last four lines, bringing a greater emphasis to the heartache and grief that Staff has experienced. When listeners hear this change for the first time, tears are bound to flow from their already weeping eyes. With “Campfire,” Staff eloquently brings to light the trauma of sexual assault and the irrevocable damage that it leaves behind.

“Campfire” consists of a beautiful production that perfectly encapsulates the deep vulnerability found within the lyrics. The song begins with soft synth sounds which are quickly met by a unique beat that is reminiscent of someone walking in high heels. This beat continues throughout the remainder of the song, providing a constant, steady rhythm that does not distract from the sensitive lyrics. After a few measures, a simple yet elegant guitar riff picks up that provides an airy vibe, before Staff’s heavenly vocals begin. The production remains consistent in the verse and continues in the chorus. However, the chorus, introduces a light violin in the background that further enhances the ethereal element of the song. Then in the bridge, the production replaces the guitar with piano chords that emphasizes the emotional climax and the shift in the track. In the third chorus, the track brings back the guitar and keeps the piano, creating the full production, before the instrumentation teeters off to only the violin and beat for the final chorus. In the outro, the song only contains the guitar and vocals, bringing an emphasis to the vulnerability. The guitar slowly fades until the last line which only contains Staff’s voice, ending the song on a haunting note. Although the entire track is filled with a delicate production that evokes feelings of sorrow, Staff’s voice tugs on the heartstrings of listeners even more. Her vocals contain a slight quiver, as if her voice may crack at any moment from reliving the pain. Whether this was intentional or her candid reaction to singing these lyrics, this provides an extra layer of emotions and heartache to the track. “Campfire” is an incredibly emotional song that utilizes the hauntingly beautiful production to enhance the gut-wrenching lyrics.

Victoria Staff is a Canadian pop singer-songwriter. She made her official musical debut earlier this year when she released her single, “Records & Honesty.” However, she has been passionate about music from a young age. When she was five-years-old, her parents signed her up for piano lessons and she immediately was drawn to creating her own music. At ten-years-old, she began truly writing her own music of her own and wrote her first real song, “100 or less.” This song appeared on her first album, The Blue Book Project, which was recently removed from all streaming platforms in an effort to rebrand her sound as something that is authentically her. Between the informal debut in 2017 and the release of her official debut single, Staff earned her degree in Behavioural Neuroscience from UBC. She then learned that a career in that field may not be her true calling, so she turned to music as both a cathartic release and her new, true passion. Staff will still be helping people that struggle with mental illness, but in an artistic, relatable manner. This knowledge only makes her songs resonate deeper and causes fans to anticipate her new releases further, as each song is bound to touch on anxiety, depression, and other mental illness. Staff is not only a singer and a songwriter, but a multi-instrumentalist with skills on the guitar, piano, banjo, and ukulele. She has derived her inspiration from prolific industry names such as Taylor Swift, Hozier, and Gregory Alan Isakov. Similar to her musical heroes, she aspires to create honest art that moves the listener and makes them feel less alone. With only three official releases under her belt, Staff is already on the right track to complete stardom.

Written By Karlee Skipper



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