Deirdre is lovesick and lonely on “Only You”

Meet Deirdre, the Copenhagen-based musician who is going to shake up the Danish indie scene with sad lyrics, good vibes, and incredible music.

Music is often cited as the ultimate cure to loneliness, and visionary newcomer Deirdre puts this to the test on new track “Only You,” debuting exclusively today on HighClouds (stream it everywhere tomorrow). Deirdre is the musical alias of Copenhagen-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Joakim Johnsen. His debut release from his first (ever!) full-length album, “Only You” is a beautiful introduction to a musician who is certain to contribute to and even redefine the indie space in Denmark and beyond.

“Only You” begins with deceptively simplistic lyrics, as Deirdre sings, “Don’t know why / Everything I imply / Slips your mind / Like I’m constantly waiting in line.” Suddenly, the singer-songwriter puts a cap on the verse by posing a blunt yet melancholic question, asking, “Am I being left behind?” The song continues, with verses describing increasingly solitary scenes—Quarantining behind closed blinds, simply waiting for time to pass, and even feeling the desire to explore new things but not knowing how. The accompanying video for the release reflects these lonely tasks in beautiful detail, trailing Johnsen IRL as he wakes up alone, prepares breakfast for one, wanders around a muted Copenhagen by subway, and eventually returns back to his empty apartment. As the verse’s funky beats and lazy guitar dissolve and the buzzy, dynamic chorus pushes in, Deirdre reveals that his isolation is a choice. He confesses, “They all try to be friends with me / But it’s only you I want to see.” Ultimately, “Only You” is a compelling investigation into what happens when you fixate on one person to the detriment of forming other relationships with those around you. When that attention isn’t returned, Deirdre finds himself all alone, closing the blinds on another day of solitude.

Deirdre is an exciting newcomer to the growing Danish alt-rock scene; “Only You,” the debut track from Deirdre‘s upcoming album Heart Work, is the artist’s first full-length release. (The artist’s only other release, 2020’s EP, is an ennui-filled masterpiece.) While the track’s grungy sound and riffy sentimentality build upon what similar sweet-hearted stoner acts like Alex G and Mac DeMarco have started over in the States, “Only You” sounds so fresh and smooth that it avoids the trap of being merely derivative. While Deirdre grapples with difficult subject matter, the mellow production and easygoing sound keep the song from taking itself too seriously. This balance between light and dark requires real skill, and Johnsen’s ability to navigate this dichotomy with such deftness is impressive. Plucking Johnsen from relative obscurity is a testament to the great taste of Pink Cotton Candy Records, an independent label founded in 2021 that’s slowly building an eclectic and informed ear for what’s exciting and upcoming in Copenhagen. It will be fascinating to see how Deirdre and Pink Cotton Candy Records grow together.

Despite the singer-songwriter’s Danish heritage, the moniker Deirdre is stolen from a tragic heroine in Irish folklore. In the tale, it’s prophesized that Deirdre’s incomparable beauty will bring banishment and death to those around her. While we hope Johnsen‘s music doesn’t lead him and those around him to death and destruction like his artistic namesake, one thing is clear—Deirdre‘s music is just as gorgeous as the ill-fated figure the band is named after.

Claire Greising