Lindsay Munroe plays tug-of-war on new single “Split”

Lindsay Munroe (Photo by Billy Holmes)

On the song “Split,” Lindsay Munroe plays tug-of-war — not the harmless childhood pass-time, but the painful process of living in between your own desires and what others expect of you.

The Manchester-based singer-songwriter released “Split” last week. The song, as well as her debut single “Mirror,” are off of Munroe’s upcoming EP Our Heaviness which comes out on May 8 via AWAL.

“Split is one of the rawest songs I have written” said Munroe. “I spent my early 20s in conservative religious environments, embedded in black-and-white thinking and beliefs. Increasingly I felt like I had to leave part of myself at the door, painfully unable to be open about my life and choices. Split came from an attempt to move beyond the hurt and exhaustion of that situation.”

The up-and-coming artist has gained new acclaim for “Split,” including a shout-out on Instagram from one of her idols, Sharon van Etten. Like Van Etten, Munroe uses her voice carefully, crafting an emotional landscape within each line.

The song’s lyrics reflect on the physical discomfort of living under the judgment of others. “I split myself in two / every time I toed the line,” she sings in a tired lull. Munroe’s voice reaches its apex in the line, “I can’t love you when I’m so ashamed.” On the word “I,” Munroe’s voice leaps up, literally splitting the syllable into two pitches. The line drawls to a finish with a jagged vibrato.

Halfway through, the song’s pace picks up, grounded by percussion from Fern Ford, who plays drums in the London band the Big Moon. Blows to the kick-drum pulsate like a racing heart. The song pushes forward, keeping time to a mix of emotions: the fear of showing others your bare self, the exhaustion of trying to people-please, and the adrenaline that comes from choosing your own happiness first.

At a time when we have become hyper-vigilant of our bodies, “Split” has been a welcome emotional release. These days it’s easy to feel the physical manifestations of anxiety, like short breath, jittery fingers, or a knotted stomach. While the subject matter may be different, listening the song has provided me with a bit of necessary catharsis. During one point or another, we’ll all find ourselves split between our own feelings and external pressures, or we’ll feel torn between an anxious body and a mind fighting to stay calm. At least Munroe gives us some comfort while we’re there.

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