Healing is a major theme on Magdalene, the long-awaited second album from British singer-songwriter FKA twigs. It’s a painfully fitting subject for the 31-year-old artist, having withstood heartache and health struggles over the last two years, including a split from partner Robert Pattinson and the removal of six fibroid tumors from her uterus.
“Going through so much just allows me to be really open and vulnerable when writing,” she tells EW. “I really wasn’t living the high life during this time. I was just by myself a lot. And I was able to tap into a lot of emotions.”
Magdalene — her first release since the 2015 EP M3LL155X, and first official studio album following her sonically rich and genre-bending debut LP1 — sees twigs working through those emotions by intertwining subjects like truth telling and companionship (“I didn’t know that you were lonely/ if you’d have just told me, I’d be home with you,” she sings on “Home With You”). Elsewhere, she flips the traditional male/female archetypes on their head, with “Holy Terrain,” a collaboration with the rapper Future.
“If a man is incredible and strong, then a woman is taught to stand beside [him],” she says. “But I don’t think that men are taught to stand beside an incredible woman. I think in ‘Holy Terrain’ that’s what I’m saying: Is the man going to be able to stand in my sacred place — and what I’ve created for myself — and stand [next] to me?”
That sentiment is also reflected in the album’s title, named for the famed biblical figure Mary Magdalene and her lesser known role as an herbalist. twigs found comfort in how Mary’s story evolved over the years — and how the truth about who she actually was eventually surfaced. “We didn’t know that she was a healer,” she says. “When I was younger, I was just sort of told that she was a prostitute and that Jesus liked everyone.”
A parallel process of discovery unfolded in the making of Magdalene, which twigs also refers to as a “killing of ego,” noting that the new album wouldn’t have happened if she had not finally let go of the expectations to come up with a compelling follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut. “My goal for MAGDALENE was to really not have a goal and sing it right from my heart. I think for me as soon as I removed the pressure and I removed my expectation of what my next album would be after LP1 was received so beautifully, it actually began to flow out. When I was in my head about it and I guess that when I was in my ego about it, nothing was coming. There were conversations that I had where I was kind of like with LP1, I was like, “Maybe that was it. You know, maybe that was my moment.”
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