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Song You Need to Know: Jess Cornelius, ‘Body Memory’

Australian singer-songwriter delivers a forceful indie-pop gem from her debut solo album

“Yeah, it’s true that I was on the fence,” Jess Cornelius sings on “Body Memory.” “The future scared me half to death.” Cornelius is singing about miscarriage, a topic — with a few exceptions (see Lily Allen’s “Take My Place“) — that’s rarely addressed as directly as it is on Cornelius’ shimmering new single.

The Los Angeles-by-way-of-Melbourne singer-songwriter uses her plain-spoken narrative (“Then we lost a baby and it broke my heart”) as a mere starting point for this four-minute meditation on self-image and womanhood, set to stuttering uptempo synth-pop.

Cornelius, the former lead singer of the Melbourne indie band Teeth and Tongue, is on the verge of releasing her debut solo album, Distance, which recalls contemporaries like Feist and Sharon Van Etten at its finest, blending synth-rock, breezy beach pop, and tender folk. But “Body Memory” is the album’s centerpiece, with Cornelius singing about corporality and mind-body connectivity with sensitivity and poise.

By the time she arrives at the slow-building, climactic second chorus halfway through, the narrator has reclaimed her painful experience of a miscarriage as an integral part of her eternal personhood. “My body has a memory,” she sings, “and it won’t forget.”

Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.