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Private words, public emotions: performing confession in indie music

  • Ariana Phillips-Hutton (a1)


This essay examines the work of singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons as an example of how confessional performance is constructed within indie music. I contend that both audiences and artists participate in a discourse that draws on narratives of personal communication, intimacy and authenticity in order to create a distinctively confessional aesthetic. This aesthetic orientation is then reflected in performances that are framed as autobiographical and truth-telling. After surveying aspects of indie music that contribute to the formation of this aesthetic, I trace the implications of performed confession through an exploration of the sonic, visual and relational characteristics of Fitzsimmons's performances from his 2008 album The Sparrow and the Crow. By examining how artist and audience construct the confessional, I suggest a new perspective on how the confessional trope operates in indie music.



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