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  • Alexa Leung

Review: "Spiderwebs" - Olivia Penalva

Toxic relationships have this tendency to take the entirety of your identity and drain you dry. Your whole life ends up revolving around them. Yet, when you ultimately leave them, you’re left with the aftermath of not knowing who you are anymore. That love, in a way, has chipped away at your sense of self so much that you might feel like just a whisper of who you used to be. In Olivia Penalva’s title track of her latest album, “Spiderwebs” muses on what it means to be consumed by a relationship and then coming out of it losing yourself. Unerringly honest, the track pinpoints that exact emotion you feel once getting out of that toxic relationship, and couples that with moody instrumentals to make you feel seen.

“Spiderwebs” wants you to feel exactly what the narrator feels. Entwined with its strings and hypnotic beats, the atmosphere developed by the track hits the nail on the head with how enveloping toxic relationships can feel sometimes. The instrumentals are overlaid one another to create a intricate soundscape, but there is a moment at 1:07 when they freeze to allow the piano to come through, silent other than that and Oivia’s vocals. Olivia sings along with the punctuated piano, "I was drunk / You were weak / Now you're holding it against me", and I just really loved how this use of negative space highlighted the intense emotions the narrator was feeling when she realized that she was using herself to feed another person's ego, only to be lost in the end. After that, the track ramps back up in energy, and the somberness fades. This happens again, though, at 1:45, with the strings instead being spotlighted, and Olivia sings, “The truth is I / lost my mind / Change my hair / And changed my size”. This is another amazing moment in the song that captures how exactly the narrator remolded herself into another identity to satisfy someone else, underscored by the track's production. These two moments illustrate well the solemnness of getting out of a toxic relationship. Of course, it is good that you are out of it, but it doesn’t negate the fact that you’ve lost so much of yourself because of it, and now you’re left to clean up the pieces. Combining this grief and catharsis makes “Spiderwebs” an especially beautiful listen, complex in its lyricism, instrumentals, and overall production.

British Columbia’s Olivia Penalva is a singer-songwriter whose pop talents were first recognized by her mother, who commented on it while in the car. At that moment, at age eleven, her dream was suddenly realized, and from there Olivia’s love for music blossomed into vocal lessons and songwriting. With accolades from the IMAs for Top Holiday Song and Top Pop Award, two iHeartRadio Future Star Awards, and the Starlight Music Chronicles TEEN Artist of the Year, it is clear that she is a force within the pop scene. Today, her curated pop style has her on track to topping the charts, as she has worked alongside some of the industry’s top producers. She has already been featured on Spotify Canada’s New Music Friday, Amazon Music’s Fresh Pop, and many other amazing placements. She released her debut single at the age of thirteen in 2013, entitled “Christmas for Two”, and her debut EP followed three years later, titled “Weightless”. “Spiderwebs” is Olivia’s latest release. Consider checking out the rest of the album if you enjoyed the title track, as well as the rest of her expansive discography!

Written By Alexa Leung



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