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Willow Processes ‘Darkness and Complexity’ on ‘Big Feelings’ From New Album ‘Empathogen’

The album, which features appearances from Jon Batiste and St. Vincent, arrives on May 3

Willow‘s inner emotions spill over on her latest single, “Big Feelings,” stylized as “b i g f e e l i n g s” on the tracklist for the musician’s upcoming studio album Empathogen. It’s the same way songs like “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” were styled on 2021’s Lately I Feel Everything, though Willow has since moved away from the pop-punk sound that shaped that record. With Empathogen, out May 3, the sonic space around her is lighter, but its lyrical content is decidedly complicated.

“The piano part of this song is so dense and dissonant but also darkly beautiful,” Willow shared in a statement. “I wrote ‘b i g f e e l i n g s’ during a week where I was coming to terms with my own emotional patterns that I hadn’t known were there. Musically, it has a darkness and complexity that reflects what we all experience in our own minds. The song is about accepting those intense feelings that you have no idea what to do with.”

Empathogen marks Willow’s first studio album in nearly two years, following 2022’s Coping Mechanism. She first began unveiling the record last month when she shared “Symptom of Life,” which she described in a statement, saying: “The song has a very beautiful whimsical nature but holds a lot of mystery. There’s this beautiful light coming in through the piano, but also this syncopated rhythm of the bass, bringing in that mysterious element. A juxtaposition of light and dark.”

Both songs capture Willow on her own, through two collaborations will appear on the album. Jon Batiste joins her on Empathogen‘s opening track “Home,” while St. Vincent appears on “Pain for Fun.” The track list for the record suggests more mystery and emotional exploration with titles like “The Fear Is Not Real” and “Run!”


“During that time, emotionally, I was going through so much. There was so much anger. There was so much resentment. There was so much need to just express myself,” Willow told Rolling Stone last year about moving away from rock music. “And those two albums helped me get it out. For Coping Mechanism I was almost never sober in the studio. And for this new album, I was sober for every single recording session … I feel like my mind state was extremely different. There was so much more gratitude, so much more resonance with myself, and so much more coming back to my roots with these new songs that are coming out.”

Empathogen Tracklist:
“Home (feat. Jon Batiste)”
“Ancient Girl”
“Symptom of Life”
“The Fear Is Not Real”
“False Self”
“Pain For Fun (feat. St. Vincent)”
“No Words 1 & 2”
“Between I and She”
“I Know That Face”
“B I G F E E L I N G S”

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