words by tom johnson
Perhaps the takeaway point from Adult Mom’s beautiful new record is that change is hard and life is hard. Most of us know this already, but music has always thrived most voraciously when presenting clarification from a new voice to find in the dark. Over the past couple of years, Adult Mom, the working project of Steph Knipe, has offered their own rumination on their own world and, subsequently, those of us who have taken the time to listen. With a graceful, plaintive turn of phrase, Knipe has become a brilliantly powerful voice, a vessel for thoughts on self-examination, healing, and so much more besides.
New album Soft Spots feels like the successful scaling of such a project; a summit reached with all of those aforementioned traits and endearments fully intact. Presided over with a seemingly great amount of care, Soft Spots sounds wonderful. Recorded wth “friends and musicians” Olivia Battell, Mike Dvorscak, and Bruce Hamilton (who help provide a musical backing that brings a golden glow to this sun-dappled brand of guitar-pop), Soft Spots picks up the mantle from previous full-length effort, Momentary Lapse of Happily, and lifts every aspect of it in to new landscapes, some similar, some newly discovered; the power of progression always both salient and prominent.
Somewhat diary-like in its lyrical form, Soft Spots thrives from the overall projection of its central voice. Which is to say that there is a waveform here, some songs that leap out more than others, some that land a slightly deeper blow than others, but, and while it’s often something of a scapegoat of actual critique etc, this record really does flourish when taken as a whole; a journey beginning and ending with Knipe’s swelling heart and mind and you, me, the listeners and absorbers right along side throughout. From the delicate opening track “Ephemeralness” (nominative determinism if we ever heard it sung this sweetly) to the crushing weight of the day-changing closing track “First Day Of Spring”, Soft Spots is a bold dash of light and colour, a vivid snapshot of something meaningful, and all the more emotive for the dark that is always hanging around its edges, present and prescient.
To say that these songs exist only as lightning bolts of emotions perhaps does a disservice to Adult Mom’s craft, but life changes quickly, and in that flash of colour, in that striking ephemeralness of it all, when everything you once knew, or thought to know, reveals itself as something else, when the rug is swept, when the wind shifts, when a dull light suddenly creeps in to those little of pockets of life you thought there to be no space at all, these songs will find away to reach you, one to another, if only for a brief moment of sincere exultation in a world that so often refuses such things.
And so here we are.
‘Soft Spots’ is out now, via Tiny Engines – you can buy it here