The New Zealand born, London based singer originally intended on a short stay back in her hometown on the other side of the world, but lockdown restrictions drastically changed that. But, it was not all doom and gloom. Out of the confinement came a new beginning and a new sense of self.

New mini-album Slack follows the critically acclaimed 2020 EP Porcupine, and while its jagged edges gave it a wholehearted teenage angst, Slack is smoother, slicker and more reflective. Forcibly stuck in the town she escaped as a teenager, Slack ties together a number of resolutions and brings about a number of self-reflections.

There’s a powerful notion of forgiveness that runs throughout. Placing the blame on herself, rather than projecting it onto others. Opening track “Honey” uses the typical line “It’s not you, it’s me, really”, whilst “You Cut Me So Much Slack” is a sweet ode to Payton’s gratitude for someone’s kindness and understanding. “In Your Arms” tells of the memory of someone slowly fading away, punctuated by the line “you were always so out of reach”. Meanwhile, “January Summers”, which might sound like a weird juxtaposition to anyone not native to that far corner of the world, reminisces of glorious summers back in Payton’s hometown, with a windows-down-driving-along-the-highway sonic warmth to match.

Payton’s voice is undeniably captivating. The creeping piano of “How Things Change” lays the perfect foundation for a haunting track at the midway mark. Payton is also known for a bountiful chorus, and this album sure does not disappoint on that front.

With Slack being a mini-album of only 8 songs, it feels more personal. It’s honest and reflective, driven by real life occurrences and realisations. Payton’s ethos of looking back to move forward coming into full force for a steady and assured follow-up.