Debut album False Smiles arrived shortly afterwards, but an ill-conceived Sheryl Crow cover designed to boost sales in the light of the success of the then new US singer Avril Lavigne flopped and, despite her initial success, Studt was dropped by Polydor. This would suggest that the label was interested in a teenage phenomenon rather than in nurturing a serious singer/songwriter. Studt’s video’s from the False Smiles period would seem to bear this out as well.
Whatever the reasons, it’s clear that the song ‘Paper Made Man’ is a far cry from ‘Misfit’ musically. It’s a sprawling, brooding piece that uses imagery reminiscient of pagan ritual and The Wickerman. Musically, there’s the energy of early Fiona Apple, but it’s firmly Studt in identity as well. My Paper Made Men was her grown up album, whereas False Smiles was the teenage album.
After My Paper Made Men, Studt entered a long quiet period that didn’t end until earlier this year when she began performing with members of Hatcham Social as MercyMadeMe. She appears to be building on and developing her existing songwriting skills beyond My Paper Made Men and it’s great to discover that, despite many setbacks, she hasn’t give up on making music altogether.
There have been re-inventions more radical than Studt’s, from Marianne Faithful to the more recent ones by Kate Nash and Charlotte Church, but the message sent by Studt’s persistence and talent is clear: The struggling music industry needs to watch how it treats its young songwriters, especially now they can reach audiences on their own terms as never before.
Image is the sleeve to My paper made men, the parent album of the single. It shows fragements of Studt’s face underneath a cut out of a paper doll. The words ‘My paper made men’ are written around the edges.
Video commentary: Video is a gallery of promotional and sleeve images of Studt.