The first time you listen to Squirrel Flower's 'I Was Born Swimming', you might wonder: Did Marika Hackman get a new stage name? And then it hits you.
The determined guitar hooks. The thumping synergy burgeoning right underneath Ella O'Connor Williams' vocals. The soft, drum tappings that lead to a cautious plunge coated in creamy lullabies at the end of the opening title, 'I-80'.
Gradually ascending from one step to another within her craft over the years, with EPs 'Early Winter Songs From Middle America' and 'Contact Sports' cradled in lazy, sombre reflection, 'I Was Born Swimming' is the youngest sister of such projects, its tone reminiscent and somewhat derived from its predecessors, yet grittier, and much more cognizant of audience's attentivity.
Blanketed within the gentle melodies and solemn vocals, lyrics like Slapback's "If you slap me/I'll slap you right back," and 'Belly Of The City's' "I know the darkness just as much as you do" shudder past your ear; whereas album standouts, 'Eight Hours', slosh with warm, bluesy-drowned currents, and tender, fireplace instrumentals coo out of 'Seasonal Affective Disorder'.
When the water ripples as gorgeously as this record does, it's hard to ever want to leave.