by tom johnson
In a tulip’s bloom,
two lips they form a word
Often said, seldom heard
I love you… too!
If you need any further proof of Amy O’s blessed charm while digging through her wonderful new album, Arrow, then find it dazzling within the lyrics layered within each song. Released last week, the ten-track collection is a refreshingly fresh-faced blast of lofi pop, all jagged bursts of guitars and chattering vocals, but for all the immediacy of Amy O’s work the added pleasure of her inspired wordings, and the way she pieces them all together, means that Arrow forms an imprint that lingers on for longer than might be immediately obvious.
Aside from that marvellous little excerpt above there are armfuls of equally dazzling verses scattered throughout this record; one that deals with love and loss and longing in ways that quite often feels new and revelatory. They aren’t, of course, this is a human voice singing heart-fuelled pop songs over loose bursts of guitar, and it’s been done a million times before, but it’s testament to the solidity of Amy O’s song-writing skills that ‘Arrow’ feels forthrightly distinct.
If we want to talk highlights then the title track is a burning, yearning swarm of floaty vocals and gnarly strums, while ‘Hurricane‘ is a refined sway to the moon, and ‘Honeysuckle‘ is a markedly enthralling side-step that sounds something like Eskimeaux in her most graceful poise. It always comes back to those words, though. In the short n’ sweet bio on the side of the album it plainly states that Amy O is from Bloomington, Indiana, and that she “builds recordings out of words and music” – and that’s exactly what how this feels. Like decorated bricks packed sturdily together, her lyrics here leave no gap for prying fingers; they’re pretty and resourceful and often enthralling.
Their sturdiness might well be overlooked if it weren’t for greater exploration though, such is the ease within which they all fall in their designated place. “Rollercoaster baby, all we do is stand in line. And then you’re up. I think I’m gonna throw up. I didn’t know the city lights could look so much like fireflies,” she pines on closing track ‘Toast’, while ‘Hurricane’ arouses speculation with its fiery, heartfelt cascade: “Do you think we could have caused that hurricane? We were pulling at each other across two state lines. We might have stirred the air up with our angry hearts; water crashing down on power lines. It seemed fortuitous at the time, a storm inclined to keep my inside, to keep a mother from her son, to keep us all in the dark of what was to come.“
Like a tumbling conversation borne of the night and circumstance, ‘Arrow’ often feels like some weighty, drunken exchange between old friends; guts are spilled, demons are confronted and, while solutions might not be found, or even required, you’ll might well come away from it all feeling like your own load has been eased a little.
And haven’t we all got shoulders and spines to preserve.
Arrow is out now, on cassette and digital.