“That’s the thing, right?” says singer and songwriter Frances Quinlan. “When you think of what’s become over time, you don’t realize over time that is a big moment, and it’s so easy, especially when you’re younger, to take those things for granted.”
Quinlan’s new solo release, Likewise, comes out via Saddle Creek Records on Jan. 31, 2020. The nine-track release finds Quinlan dancing through a multitude of dialogue, stories, and emotional connections to the process of forming relationships with other beings.
“Part of what I wanted, for my own sake,” she says. “[Was] to not get completely embroiled in myself. I wanted the lyrics to declare their ideas without exerting all of my own emotions.”
An example of these larger-than-herself connections lies in the track “Your Reply,” about the tragic death of Edgar Allan Poe. With this in mind, Quinlan understands the nature of listening to songs.
“You’re in a different state of mind any time you put a song on. Maybe a person will feel something despairing when they hear a line, and for others they will feel at peace. Pain will always be a part of our lives, and part of me worried that the album would sound despairing, but there’s nothing wrong with that,” she reflects.
Starting with “Piltdown Man,” — a reference to the hoax of the first human — Likewise finds Quinlan in a thoughtful state, bashfully lying in wait to understand the nature of situations. The track ends with a deep thought, “In the afternoon you both fell asleep / Still knowing more than me.” An insight in the endless possibility of inner dialogue, feeling lost with what it is to know oneself.
“I’ve tried to be an omniscient narrator, but I suppose I am in that chapter of life where it doesn’t feel truthful for me at the moment,” Quinlan says. In this way, the listeners are engaging with her as she sings, and she is seeking their openness in embracing the conversation.
The considerable amount of thoughtfulness that breathes in Likewise gives the album a human quality, as evidenced on “Rare Thing.” The dreamlike textures of atmosphere allow Quinlan’s voice to powerfully admit that it’s okay to be happy. The song — the first single released from the album — highlights the adventurous display of instruments that Quinlan worked with, led by master of production (and Hop Along bandmate) Joe Reinhart.
“He really understands my approach,” Quinlan comments. “I knew for my solo record, I wasn’t making a solo record because I was passionate about the acoustic guitar, the guitar just always ended up being my main vehicle when I write. Some songs were driven by the flexibility of each song having its own identity.”
That’s why there’s a wide variety of sounds contorting through the mix of songs. “Detroit Lake” has strings delicately crying behind a keyboard, with Quinlan finding herself in a mess of questions. “Carry The Zero” has a multitude of percussion instruments contributing to the staccato stream-of-consciousness vocals.
“There was a time in my life where I felt [more] confident in other people’s knowledge than my own,” Quinlan comments.
Likewise shines in its ability to instill a sense of unknown ambience, curating a belief that everyone is simply figuring themselves and their dialogue out through their different moments. By sharing in this world, Quinlan is able to confidently sing, “Now that I’m back / we should try again to talk.”
Top photo by Julia Khorosilov