Photos by Hana Tobias
Maisie Peters has turned heartbreak into a joyous celebration of love.
Peters’ sophomore album, The Good Witch, tells a loosely chronological story of a breakup she experienced. Given the subject matter, it would’ve been easy for her to pack her LP with despondence, but Peters maintains hope throughout the album and avoids falling into a void of self-pity even on the saddest of songs. A bubbly exterior of catchy melodies and bouncy synths contrasts undercurrents of apoplectic anguish; the lyrics are melancholic, yes, but they’re also unexpectedly funny. “The way I write just reflects who I am as a person. I like a joke, I like a joke,” the singer says. “And I don’t like sincerity very much.”
Striking a balance between exploring vulnerability and dodging sincerity is one of Peters’ strengths as a writer. Her honesty invites relatability; her hyperbolic sarcasm reminds the listener not to take anything too seriously. It’s this contrast that makes her music so enjoyable.
Clearly, her exuberant pop sound is gaining her a following. Released on June 23, 2023, The Good Witch earned a #1 spot on the UK Album Chart, making Peters the youngest British female solo act since 2014 to claim the top spot. It’s nice to have a plaque to remind her of the work she and her team put into it, she says. “I love that album, and I love the people I made it with.”
It’s a satisfying progression from her debut album, You Signed Up for This, which charted at #2 and earned positive reviews from critics (with The Independent calling it “an effortless pop debut”). It wouldn’t be unheard of for an artist to feel pressure to repeat that success, but Peters didn’t dwell on it. “I feel like the only pressure I felt really was internal,” she says. “I was aware of how important my first album was, because a lot of people, a lot of my fans love that album.”
Peters performs at House of Blues on September 10.
Both You Signed Up for This and The Good Witch open with their respective title tracks, in which Peters addresses the audience. The songs parallel each other: in the former, she introduces herself (“I am 20 and probably upset right now”), and in the latter, she gives an update on her life (“Still me here, d’you think I forgot about you? Still upset, but now I’m 22”). The difference highlights the growth that Peters and her audience have experienced together—they’ve aged, they’ve fallen in love, they’ve faced heartbreak.
“These two albums sort of felt like kindred spirits—which isn’t always the case, and who knows if my next album will feel like that—but these two definitely felt like sisters,” explains Peters. “I wanted the album to sort of feel like a slightly older version of my first album.”
Judging by the atmosphere at Peters’ House of Blues San Diego concert, fans feel a similar appreciation for The Good Witch. They sing along to every lyric (or scream, when the mood hits them). Peters is a ball of energy on stage, dancing and jumping around for her entire set—an impressive feat given the platform gogo boots she’s wearing.
That vitality is even more formidable when you see Peters’ tour schedule. She’s essentially been on tour since February, playing festivals like Lollapalooza and Glastonbury, opening for Ed Sheeran on his Mathematics tour, and embarking on multiple headline tours, including her current run that began in August. “[There are] highs and lows, but it’s crazy what we get to do,” she remarks. She misses home, certainly, but she’s very close with her band—comprising Joel Peat on guitar, Jack Geary on drums, and Tina Hizon on keys—even dedicating a song to them on her second LP (“The Band and I”). They enjoy themselves, although Peters says they’re far from debaucherous. “This is, like, the most PG tour of all time,” she jokes. “We skip the bar and we go to ice cream.”
[First Image] Peters and her band. L to R: Peters, Tina Hizon on keys, Jack Geary on drums. [Second Image] Bandmember Joel Peat on Guitar.
The bond between Peters and her band is plain to see on stage, as is their passion for performing. That love permeates the crowd, creating a joyful atmosphere. Although heartbreak is the topic of the night, it’s difficult to imagine anyone unhappy once Peters takes the stage.
Peters’ tour is a reminder that it gets better, that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, that love is not limited to romance. If you surround yourself with friends and find something to laugh about, heartbreak won’t seem quite so impossible to overcome.
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