“An Album About Rape” read the subject line, bold and stark and alone. Not clickbait, just a statement, a reality. I opened the link. I expected anger and pain, but was greeted with flowers.
Ripened Fruit, the first album from Sydney singer-songwriter Kissy Fleur, is dreamy, wispy, surreal. It’s set in a young world full of lilacs and bees that don’t sting. There is a girl. She’s kind and sweet and curious. She sings songs and plays the harp. But she is not alone. There is a snake in the grass. And as the story of her stolen innocence unfolds, we watch the garden wither. Strawberries rot on the vine. Every note becomes foreboding, regretful: “I never saw you coming / I should have kept on running.”
The album is devastating at every turn, but it is also tender and healing. Fleur remembers the process of writing the album as almost too difficult to continue:
“There were many days where I decided to give up on this album because I thought it would be too intense for both me and the listeners.” But the subject of sexual assault and the intense emotions it carried kept creeping back into her songwriting. “It was almost as if my mind was purging these feelings from within myself with every song I wrote,” she remembers.
The intensely personal album that came from those sessions (which Fleur also produced, mixed, and mastered herself) adds to the strong and growing chorus of women giving voice to their stories to heal themselves, empower others, and condemn the normalization of sexual violence.
She describes the relief of finally finishing the record – “After years of making this album I was suddenly able to disconnect from the project. I had written all the emotions I needed to write, sang all the words I needed to sing and found myself emptied of the suffering I felt. I was able to let go of the album, I no longer needed to work on it and it no longer needed to heal me. The job was done. It is now time for the album to travel to those who need to hear its story.”
The phrase “ripened fruit” is a chilling metaphor for a girl on the edge of womanhood being sent into the world for consumption, but in listening to this album I’m reminded of another food-related expression that should worry every snake in every garden: it’s time to reap what you have sown. Women around the world are coming together, combining our resources to heal each other and ourselves. Our movement is coming into itself. Maturing. What grows here is power.