Martha Meredith aka For Esmé introduces her album Righteous Woman. In this project, she explores progressive and feminist views in a way that causes you to question certain traditional values. She does it in a way that doesn’t undermine some of the positive traits of the traditional view and yet she critiques certain aspects of it. She shares her viewpoint with respect and does not badger or condemn anyone.
“To Love” is the first track on the album. Mar’s voice is immediately captivating as she expresses her frustrations about loving someone who ended up leaving her even though she made it easy for him to love her. It’s a critique of men who don’t know how to keep a woman who is strong and confident. A woman who freely gives her heart without undermining the other person.
Halfway down the album, she sings about the agony of being seen as a child-rearing object. She portrays the woman who refuses to be defined only as a mother; only as someone who is made For Others. It also explores other deep emotional themes, and it is the first song in which the percussion section is quite audible. It’s a clever production in that sense because there is something about a strong drum beat that helps the heart connect to its emotions, and this song is filled with emotions.
Doubtmouth follows “For Others”. It’s my favorite, so I had to mention it. It is reminiscent of 80s music, and it’s definitely a girl power track. She sings about speaking out as a woman. It’s about the kind of woman who won’t dumb herself down but speaks as the intelligent person she is. The idea that women are strong; women are confident; women are intelligent; women are assertive reverberates throughout the track.
At the end of the album is a short and simple production that is unapologetic and is meant to awaken the woman who has mindlessly followed the status quo. Asleep/Awake is about the woman who is learning from her mistakes. Conformity caused her to fall asleep, but now she has awakened to her worth. Ideally, this woman has listened to the entire album from the first track to the last. She has considered what Mar has to say and now she is awakening to the righteous woman that she is. Her worth is not defined by what society says about her but by whom she is created to be. This woman will only find her worth when she searches the deep things in her heart and stands up for herself as a virtuous and righteous woman.
Musically, the entire album is a delight to the ears. Most of the songs veer towards a synth-pop sound while others sound like electric funk, notably in the song “To Hate”. In “Small Talk”, the production sounds like a mashup of different tracks. At one point it also sounds like there are animal noises as if she recorded that portion on a farm or while camping in a forest. I especially liked the song “Didn’t Ask” because of the end. Here the music sets the mood for the story she tells about a man who cat-called her while she was riding her bike. I was so moved by the song’s message that I sent her a note on Facebook and gave her a compliment. She responded quickly and with kindness (I didn’t tell her I was reviewing her album). Two thumbs up to you For Esmé! ?
Overall, Mar does a fine job explaining her views in a way that sheds feminists in a positive light. They are not man-haters; they are powerful women who won’t conform to society’s standards for women. They are women who understand their value as human beings. They are not defined by their beauty, by a man’s opinion, by being in a relationship, or by their ability to bear children. Their identity is in their personhood, their character, and personality. That’s what it means to be a “Righteous Woman”.