“Open Work” by Fern Mayo is a personal introspection with allusions to gender, specifically the resulting competition among women through the eyes of the men they surround themselves with. The title, however, allows for interpretation; extrospection if you will. According to Fern Mayo vocalist/guitarist Katie Capri, “Open Work” is a “sideways nod to Umberto Eco’s essay / idea that artwork is only activated by the interpretation of the audience.” (Disclosure: Katie is a contributing editor at Impose.)
The first song the band ever recorded, its minor chords enhance this contemptible unease. There is a sense of urgency in both Capri’s vocals, and the guitar progressions that back her strong voice, as this unease is turned to aggressive empowerment by song’s end. As the resident dad at Impose, I tend to draw my comparisons to older bands, and “Open Work” seems to fall somewhere between Pavement and the Pixies. But it’s Capri’s vocals that both define Fern Mayo’s sound and, incidentally, separate them from comparisons. If Capri is unsettled by comparisons to other women as made by men, she can at least take solace in knowing that her independence as a songwriter—and the voice it provides her and others around her—is something beyond scrutiny. Beyond gender. It is hers and hers alone.
Then again, as Capri points out on “Open Work”, mine is simply another “point of view.”