We will start with Bristol based indie-folk pop singer-songwriter Sailing Stones (Jenny Lindfors) own words about ‘Emmanuel’: ‘I found myself in quite a bad place a few years back, quite isolated and muddled up. I had lost the ability to write songs, and read a brilliant book called “The War Of Art” by a compassionately brutal writer called Steven Pressfield. He talked about creating rituals around your writing practise, and calling in the angel and the muse. This song was written in minutes after putting down the book.’
The affectionate vocal performance binds admirably with the imposing sound of a grand piano in this ethereal, almost angelic folk gemstone, we feel blessed to premiere on Last Day Deaf. Take a deep breath… Our fave folk muse of 2020 is taking over!
Sailing Stones’ debut album ‘Polymnia’ is slow and cinematic, so taking it as such highly rewards the listener. Drawing on classic 70s songwriter influences, much like last year’s ‘Titanic Rising’ by Weyes Blood and the ornamental pop of Julia Holter’s ‘Have You In My Wilderness’, Lindfors is a restless songwriter, but she is an auteur of her vision. Ranging from glossy pop to more experimental production, Sailing Stones skillfully brings her 70s songwriting influences into new ambitious territories. Produced by TJ Allen, the tracks unfold with dramatic, gradual pacing as she explores the theme of consolation in darkness. Throughout the album, each song has its own character and mood while essentially remaining parts of the same whole.
Lindfors’ connection with 70s songwriting runs deeply in the blood of ‘Emmanuel’, one of the sparsest tracks found on ‘Polymnia’. It is also one of the album’s most melodic and accessible, with an opening refrain more classical sounding than pop. Although undoubtedly tragic sounding, through lyrics like “In this bluest hour I’m held by you,” the songwriter’s fixation on emotional respite in isolation emerges clearly.
A core feature of Lindfors’ songwriting is how emotion becomes translated into lyrical imagery and musical metaphor, often capturing acutely the dark American expanse of films like Wenders’ Paris, Texas. On 80s FM inspired ‘Receive’, this is particularly apparent, featuring beautiful arpeggiated guitars underlying the relief reflected in the lyrics. The process of opening up is sensitively reflected in the song’s gradual expansion, where string sections blur into intensifying synths.
Another track that gradually burns up in drama is ‘Polymnia’. It builds similarly to ‘Receive’ with clashing saxophones and electric guitars on its outro. The album’s closer explains escaping from
the ups and downs of the day-to-day grind, with this revelation emerging in the lines: “I take my eyes and pry them right off the prize”.
A song about addiction and dependency, the mellow, yet unhinged ’Comfort’ deceives a little through its title. “Be the opiate to my bones’, Lindfors asks disarmingly over modulated Fender Rhodes and murmuring synth pads. The production choices here create a womblike sense amidst the darkness, demonstrating again the songwriter’s keen sensitivity to the setting of each song.