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Released: 2022

“Free” by Florence + The Machine plunges into an intimate confessional, delving into the complexities of mental health struggles while also exploring the liberating power of music and dance. Florence Welch, never one to shy away from airing her innermost thoughts and emotions, paints a vivid, almost visceral, picture of her personal trials, her yearning for relief, and the transient freedom she experiences when lost in the throes of creative expression.

The lyrics “Sometimes, I wonder if I should be medicated /If I would feel better just lightly sedated” unapologetically capture Florence’s contemplation of seeking solace in medication, a common dilemma faced by many grappling with mental health challenges. The relentless cycle of emotional highs and lows is illustrated in the recurring “It picks me up, puts me down / Chews me up, spits me out”. This poignant depiction hints at the unpredictability and volatility of her emotional state, further exacerbated by the refrain “a hundred times a day”.

The verse “You’re too sensitive”, they said / I said, “Okay, but let’s discuss this at the hospital” is a strong statement about the societal tendency to dismiss emotional intensity. Here, Welch indicates that mental health concerns are not to be trivialized and deserve sincere consideration and professional attention.

The driving force of the chorus “But I hear the music, I feel the beat / And for a moment, when I’m dancing, I am free” celebrates the restorative power of music and dance. For Florence, these moments are fleeting pockets of freedom, where her emotional shackles are thrown off, and she liberates herself through creative expression. It’s a tempting escape that she willingly surrenders to, a potent antidote to her torments.

The phrase “Is this how it is? Is this how it’s always been? / To exist in the face of suffering and death / And somehow still keep singing?” questions the human propensity for resilience despite hardships, almost akin to the suffering of Christ on the cross. The closing lines “But there is nothing else that I know how to do / But to open up my arms and give it all to you” represent the cathartic release of expression, the willingness to bare all and surrender to her craft and audience.

“Free,” while steeped in personal strife, ultimately champions resilience and the therapeutic potency of creative expression. Florence + The Machine’s hallmark blend of powerful lyrics and emotive delivery makes this track a remarkable exploration of the intertwining worlds of creativity and mental wellbeing.

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