When Maya Hawke wrote about all types of affection on her debut album Blush, she had a approach of tangling it up in metaphor. “You may’t scare me away,” she sang on ‘River Like You’, “I’ve tamed the moss upon the rocks/ And molded the purple clay.” The tune stood out in a group about rising up that was by turns wistful and eccentric, taking us by means of her childhood with diaristic lyrics that have been generally immediately plucked from these years in her life. Hawke revisits that metaphor on its follow-up, Moss, an album that displays on the identical time period with the readability of maturity and distance, which all the time feels larger than it’d truly be. “Within the performing world, you typically get forged to play 14 at 16, 16 at 20 – what’s cool about that’s you realize much more about what it means to be 14 whenever you’re 16,” Hawke stated in a current interview. “So I’ve been taking that ethos and utilizing it in my music.” The consequence is a superb document that showcases her development, honing in a selected fashion of indie people whereas protecting consistent with Hawke’s poetic but affecting songwriting.
Each sonically and structurally, Moss is extra targeted and cohesive than its predecessor, which used its number of sounds as extra of a playground to discover Hawke’s musical sensibilities. It started as a collaboration with Okkervil River’s Benjamin Lazar Davis, who’s attuned to the rhythmic stream and emotional subtleties of Hawke’s poetry and helps convey it to life. Because the songs bloomed right into a full-length’s value, they enlisted guitarist Will Graefe in addition to Phoebe Bridgers collaborators Christian Lee Hutson and Marshall Vore; Graefe additionally gives further vocals on a couple of tracks, and Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy even makes an look on ‘Backup Plan’. Jonathan Low, who combined Taylor Swift’s folklore, additionally combined Moss, which clearly goals to sound like a cross between that album and Punisher. Fairly than attempting to reverse-engineer what a modern indie album feels like in 2022, although, Hawke and her collaborators use this palette to evoke the hushed intimacy and playfulness that run by means of her songwriting, every adornment making it really feel like a deliberate enlargement from her stripped-back debut.
For one factor, there are well-written and melodically resonant songs that wouldn’t really feel misplaced in both of Swift’s 2020 releases. The pre-chorus of ‘South Elroy’ gives a glimpse of that Swiftian magic, however not sufficient to distract from the tune’s personal character; ‘Loopy Child’ comes extremely near the Bon Iver duets however doesn’t really feel like cosplay. Moss is at its greatest when it zeroes in on the distinctive idiosyncrasies and self-aware appeal of Hawke’s songwriting. On ‘South Elroy’, she contrasts the sunshine, delicate tone of the music with traces like, “After we fought and we fucked and we fought/ I all the time took your aspect.” ‘Candy Tooth’ has an nearly sing-song high quality, however the joyful sentiment at its floor – “I’m grateful for every little thing you set me by means of/ It’s the one purpose now I’m any good to speak to,” she sings, prone to her mom – is undercut by ambiguous, dreamlike photographs of decay and loneliness.
What marks Hawke’s lyricism is partly this knack for the surreal, and Moss is shot by means of with a type of giddy creativeness that’s pleasant to comply with. ‘Thérèse’ takes inspiration from Balthus’ 1983 portray Thérèse Dreaming and drifts right into a hazy meditation on private autonomy and public notion; like essentially the most compelling songs on the album, it appears like a delicate if barely unsure dance. The story of ‘Bloomed into Blue’ is draped in alliteration, however Hawke cleverly saves essentially the most piercing line for final: “I’ve beliefs in my mind, I’m a bottomless sea.” There’s a darkness edging by means of the album that hardly ever scans as easy melancholy, and the wealthy preparations present greater than an ornamental flourish. An electrical guitar bleeds by means of ‘Luna Moth’, a tune about inflicting ache that blurs the road between reminiscence and fantasy; on ‘Sticky Little Phrases’, a bitter realization is accompanied by the rise of bass harmonics that create an uneasy impact.
Hawke juxtaposes these fluttery, stressed moments with stark vulnerability and resolve. “I do know you bleed glitter and have a coronary heart of stone/ However all I actually need is an actor of my very own,” she admits on ‘Hiatus’, which notably shies away from utilizing an excessive amount of figurative language. Equally, ‘Driver’ avoids alluding to the singer’s life within the highlight by means of veiled references – what makes it hanging isn’t that you realize precisely who she’s referring to when she imagines her mother and father “loosely necking behind a taxi cab,” however the best way she then traces her ideas into the story. “Now I’ll inform you a secret,” she leans in at one level, although she’s clearly aside from whoever she’s speaking to. “A secret that everybody already is aware of/ You remind me of my father/ Your perspective/ Your raveled garments.” Earlier than you realize it, she takes us again to that well-known proverb – “a rolling stone gathers no moss” – and also you marvel if freedom, this fixed motion, results in extra happiness than alienation. Both approach, Hawke doesn’t let the confusion restrain her. “Oh my god, I gotta sluggish it down in some way,” she reminds herself on the finish of ‘South Elroy’, discovering magnificence within the stillness.