image: Luca Pearl Khosrova

Noele Flowers’s debut EP, “Wait For Me” is a journey, a diary, a biopic – a testament to letting go of regrets and holding onto hope, and ultimately? A damn good listen.

Ranging from optimistic, bright surf pop, to heavy-hit ballads and soft forest-folk, Flowers has taken inspiration from the path of her 20’s to deliver the listener a beautiful retrospective.

“Risk It For You” as an opener is strong and surprisingly sweet, similar in energy to Phoebe Bridger’s “Kyoto,” with the keyboard breakdown reminiscent of the lush, retro bell in Harry Style’s “As It Was.” The buzzing chorus of Noele’s vibrant vocals crooning, “I’ll risk it for you!” is shockingly addictive & sing-alongable, and the bridge that follows is enough to take you to church. As the chorus chants: “Oh, my hands are always,” Noele expresses the inevitability of, “My hands are always reaching out to you!” with fervor.

Similarly “Harry’s House”ian, the follow-up “Portland” is a bright, hazy song – a grief-stricken pop melody about a friendship break-up:

There’s a song that I wrote about you
everyone seems to like
When I wrote it I didn’t doubt you
Now I try to forget what you did that night

The following song “Carolyn” – a song written for a friend she seems to have endless faith and love for – seems layered with extra meaning as a follow-up to these lyrics. Just as “Portland” hides betrayal in its pop beat, even this saccharine folk ode seems to have tender spots in the EP’s narrative, places where, as a listener, just a little pressing will reveal bruises – whether it be Carolyn’s own self-doubt, or perhaps Noele’s greater vulnerability in sharing both sides of a story. While I hope the two experiences are separate, either way there’s a beauty in letting the empathy and sincerity of “Carolyn” be the last sentiment heard on the theme of friendship.

“I know you’re gonna love again / like I know the summer turns into the fall”

Almost like comfort for herself, the summer disappointment will fade into fall, setting the more wintry, somber stage for the next song. Taking her time, the slow guitar is emphasized with a heavy, thick beat, as Noele celebrates and  laments the “tiniest things” about love.

And but I always cry for the tiniest things
Like your hand as it falls on the small of the back of
a girl who is something, but nothing like me

Harkening back to her bold opener, “Little Heart Hurt” expresses the other side of risk in reaching out to love, and the hurt that might follow. “Nothing is bro~ken,” sings Noele as she breaks the word itself in half.

Nothing will prove that in loving
You got what you put in
But how does it matter

No one arrives to inform
that you’re old enough to win
a love that won’t shatter

Many of the themes of the EP revolve around developing wisdom in her 20’s, but also in the wisdom of realizing there are no knowns. Love isn’t guaranteed, friendship isn’t perfect, and oftentimes the success we strive for may not be what we need.

But, even with all those lessons learned: it’s important to take risks, and keep trying anyway. 

What if I needed a year to be on my own
drowning in blankets and tea?

What if I needed a decade to reconcile
to give up to recompile, honey?

Would you wait for me?

These opening lines, and the overall transition to “Wait For Me”, is my favorite of the EP – from the dark and grim, to a sudden plea. Will you wait for me while I heal from all this? Will you give me time?

And, when it’s the right person, when it’s the right thing: the answer’s yes. 

The reward of this softening, of this taking time to heal, is made apparent in the sweeping melodies, the unapologetically acrobatic chorus that sounds like a crowd of angels doing vocal warm-ups. The titular track is full, but gentle, and achingly loving. And despite all the fall out of earlier risk-taking in love, “Wait For Me” expresses optimism all over again.

The final (kinda) song, “Leaving Town” returns upbeat. The failed lover of her past is left behind in the big city, and Noele has the realization that regretting that relationship, that time she spent out of place, really says nothing about her other than that she tried something. Rather than attach regret or judgment to that failure, she accepts it as part of her journey.

I’m feeling so defiant
chasing my dreams around
Like it’s unusual to say what you want and go
and you learn that the answer’s ‘no’

Noele openly discusses on her social media how she left the big city for small town life again, but this song encapsulates it best. Missing the trees, her garden, Noele brims with optimism for the future as she sets down the brow-beating way we all tend to look back on bad times with. Instead, she declares:

I wasn’t crazy ’cause I stayed with you
It doesn’t have much to do with you
I wasn’t crazy; I was growing up
Filled my cup

While this could be the perfect ending – looking back on all the highs and lows of this period with a positive attitude, with an awareness that it all happened for a reason – the real denouement is in the song’s last couple minutes, a hidden track so poetic and voice-memo-direct-to-Spotify-y, it deserves that hallowed quiet and full attention of your listen without too many spoilers from me. 

Just know it’s an ode to the place she’s gotten to at the end of all this, that while short it’s stunning – like a little Mona Lisa demure and small, but masterful on the Louvre’s big beige wall.

Most importantly, it bodes well for our heroine and where the journey’s taken her.

The last lines of the EP echo out:

later I will find
later I will find
later I will find
a poem in this place

As a debut EP, “Wait For Me” is a stunning ode to lost love, lost friendships, and the brilliant hope of trying all over again. By edifying the best of those times in song, Noele creates a space where the positive of the past can stay immortal, and the rest can be lovingly left behind.

While I’m glad this retrospective of her 20’s could be a fount of inspiration, I’m hoping Noele will be able to continue to find poems in this new place she’s found, and that – selfishly – the next retrospective of music won’t need the whole decade.

But if it does – if Noele needs to rest in blankets and tea and recompile – she can be rest assured the listeners will heed the title, and lovingly – eagerly – wait.