In 2019, empathy for others feels like a sadly rare characteristic. For Northern Irish singer-songwriter Lilla Vargen, it shines through in her music and highlights the importance of human connection.

Although her music is deeply personal, Lilla has a desire to highlight the universal issues that she cares most about. In her video for “Why Wait”, a tender, gossamer-like song about leaving a toxic relationship, she portrays the ongoing housing crisis in Ireland – a subject close to her heart.

Lilla grew up just outside of Ballymena, County Antrim – where her school friends were a bike ride away and her dreams of pursuing a career in music were met with scepticism and confusion. While her memories of home – a house in the middle of country fields and a community where “everybody knows everybody” – are fond ones, she’s glad she took the plunge and left for London.

Compared to the overproduced pop that’s dominated the charts of late, Lilla’s sound is wonderfully considered, moving at a leisurely pace with detail applied with deft strokes. Her songs feel limitless, like a landscape painting where the sea merges with the sky, but have a mature pop sheen helmed by producers Carey Willetts (Dermot Kennedy, Freya Ridings) and Darren Heelis (Sam Smith, Paloma Faith).