(Photo Credit - Ally Schmaling)
Advance Review - Squirrel Flower: I Was Born Swimming (January 31, 2020) via Polyvinyl Record Co.
Although I normally begin writing my notes and album reviews during my first listen, I must have listened to I was Born Swimming at least fifteen times before getting anything down. Then Michael messaged me and asked if I was still working on it; the album was going to be released within a week.
I cannot tell you what was making this review so difficult to write. My first thoughts were about Mazzy Star and how I came across her album, So Tonight That I Might See. It was move-in day my freshmen year of college. After my parents left, I wandered through the halls of my dorm. I cannot remember who was playing the album, but I remember asking about it. That was a good memory and a good connection to make.
When you give a listen to the debut album of Squirrel Flower, I was Born Swimming, you will see it is not as slow and dreamy as Mazzy Star. Don’t get me wrong, “Eight Hours” is an extremely meditative song, but most of the others have a musical build that stimulates the heart. In fact, the intro to the song that follows, “Headlight,” is like awakening in the morning, and it is followed by “Honey, Oh Honey!” a song with guitar and drums that will take you through the chaotic moments of the day before bringing you back down to earth with “Seasonal Affective Disorder.”
My favorite songs on the album are “Streetlight Blues,” “Red Shoulder,” and “Slapback,” and the guitar in “Belly of the City” reminds me of “Love Scene” off the Zabriskie Point soundtrack. The rest are a good mixture of Sunday driving music and/or lounging on the couch with candles lit, allowing the album to steer your thoughts.
Final Thought: Squirrel Flower will find her place among the alternative world of Kurt Vile, Father John Misty, St. Vincent, and Angel Olsen. Since I was Born Swimming is an extremely professional debut album, I cannot wait to see where she goes.
Rating - 3.5 out of 5