Erin McQueen aka Folly is a musician located in the San Francisco Bay area and recently released All is Fair. She explains, “This album was a project in documenting love lost - the stages of grief that ensue, and the way perception can change with time.” That might be the topic that is sung most in music but the creative process is cathartic for the artist. It’s obviously also a very relatable subject to most people.
She also mentions “my sound is primarily rooted in ’70s folk - I grew up listening to Judy Collins, Simon and Garfunkel, and Peter, Paul, and Mary.” I picked up on this. Her voice however reminded me of Nika Roza Danilova aka Zola Jesus.
There are a lot of good singers out there but there aren’t many great singers. McQueen is in the latter category. Her affectation and inflection is often dramatic without much levity. I think you have to be a really good singer to pull this off because if you aren’t it can sound saccharine. Suffice it to say her vocals are the main attraction on this release and are superb.
The album starts with the beautifully sparse “Euphoria.” It revolves around piano and some atmosphere. I think most people will feel moved by the vocal performance. Up next is “Lover's Lament” where we get drums and warm synths. It’s again sparse but absolutely moving and powerful.
“Digital Affair” might be the highlight. It’s the most dynamic song yet with cosmic crescendos and glowing harmonies. It was reminiscent of ambient and classical artists like Ben Lukas Boysen and Jon Hopkins. “Submarine” is soulful, ambient and combines slightly distorted guitar, electric piano and drums.
She really digs into melancholy and beauty at the same time on “Pompeii” and finds a little bit of levity with the dusty winds of “Blue and Green.” You really hear the ’70s folk influence on the last track “Between You and I” which puts acoustic guitar as the main accompaniment.
Simply put, this is one of my favorite releases this year. It’s an honest and heartfelt account of lost love which has been done countless time before but rarely this well. Highly recommended.
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