Original and refreshing songs on the complex topic of devotion can feel like a rare treat in the current pop market. Yet, bursting on to the music scene with just such a gem, Amber Mark’s S P A C E is the song about irritating loved ones I never knew I needed.
S P A C E is the track that started it all for the twentysomething songwriter. After it was uploaded to Soundcloud, the song was picked up by the likes of Zane Lowe and a few months later it landed at No35 in Spotify’s Global Viral Chart. Its combination of rhythmic, pared-back melody, with incredibly relatable lyrics, made it an instant hit with me, just as it did with many others.
Mark’s debut EP, 3:33am, is a record reacting to the grief of her mother’s passing in 2013. Having spent her childhood travelling back and forth across the globe from the US to India with her, Mark cites her mother as the greatest influence on her music. Of her EP, she said in an interview with NME: ‘Each track… is about one of the stages of grief: anger [as in Lose My Cool], isolation, sadness, questioning of faith, overcoming and so on.’ S P A C E certainly feels informed by this sadness, but not overcome by it. Instead, the singer’s need for isolation becomes something more universal, a simple desire to be left alone in the pursuit of creativity.
So why 3:33am? Mark explained to NME: 'Three has been a really common number in my life. My mother was born in 1953, my brother was born in 1983 and I was born in 1993. Then my mum passed away on June 3, at 10:23 pm in 2013. Since then, I’d see threes everywhere. When I was writing the EP in New York… and out of the zone, I would check the clock and I always remember it being 3:33am.'
S P A C E spins a tale about the dilemmas that come later in doting relationships. Although Mark has revealed that the lyric was originally inspired by her sister, ‘not giving [her] space when she needed it’, the composition could easily be a reaction to the clinginess of a significant other…
I know, it is hard to comprehend
Why won’t, you let me be in my head?
So don’t, straight up come walking in
I tried to warn you many times
Now I, don’t want to start a fight
But I, can’t go on this way
So why, won’t you just give me some time?
Mark’s need for space will be recognisable to anyone who has tried to write at home. Such a craving is not unwarranted or petulant, but arises out of a wish to concentrate on herself. The devotion in the song is thus twofold, as it relates both to her love, the subject of the song, and the love she owes herself and her creative passions. She sings defiantly: ‘Understand this is all/ Devotion’. There is no pitting these modes against each other – they are all the same feeling.
With the rhythmic clapping that begins the song, Mark’s beautifully resonant vocal wraps the first verse of frustration quoted above into something almost sensual. An issue that often seems contentious in relationships, this sensuality casts the singer’s plea for some time alone as something subtler than a call to break off the relationship or to create distance with another. Devotion to another is not a prerequisite to giving up the original devotion to oneself and as Mark sings in the chorus, this focus can be vital in achieving personal ambitions…
I’ve got real big goals
Need to be able
I-I may hurt your soul
But understand this is all
Just go (can’t stay)
You know (you’re bae)
Please don’t (be mad)
Just need some space
In an industry where people are so often singing about the need to change themselves, lose themselves, or give something up in order to please another, Mark’s lyric is a blunt breath of fresh air. There’s something that feels almost brave about S P A C E for this very reason. She puts words to something of a taboo subject in relationships, that despite your love for someone, you can still need, and do deserve time alone. In sharing the experience, she is doing what all great pop music does – articulating a complicated feeling while still making you want to dance.
Your pride has gotten out of line
Just try to understand my side
No lie, you are on my case
So why won’t you just
Give me some time?
Give me-Give me some time?
While quite a simple song to nod your head along to, or get fired up by, the way S P A C E seamlessly taps into an understandable frustration makes it clear that Mark is a singer-songwriter to watch closely. Her popularity is bound to grow, and she has mentioned at various times that she is working on an album. Let us just hope she is given enough space to complete it.