Tue, Jun 23, 2020 at 6:58 AM
Like So Much Desire, the new EP from Jenn Wasner’s Flock of Dimes, is about the inseparable nature of desire and grief. It’s a collection of songs about finding peace amidst personal hardships, an offering of both comfort and personal reflection, reaching out across the unknown in search of connection. Moving and strikingly intimate, Like So Much Desire’s work is Wasner’s most personal work yet.
The EP’s title track is a masterclass in slow-burn, a song that deals directly with how you have to lose to gain, an acoustic beginning growing into a tangle of whirring gadgetry. The subdued, mellow prettiness of “Again for the First Time” offers reassurance, the sonic equivalent of leaning on someone’s shoulder. The piano-based “Spring in Winter” sounds near-hymnal, warmed by strings, dealing with the fleeting beauty of North Carolina’s unexpected springtime popping up in the cold, while “Thank You Friends and Strangers” opens on chirping birds and outside sounds – the sounds of nature and normalcy. Like So Much Desire blends all of these worlds seamlessly.
In many ways, Like So Much Desire feels like postcards sent from a strange new world. And fittingly, the work came together at a distance. The bulk of the songs were recorded by Wasner in her home in isolation, with other pieces coming from across the country; drummer JT Bates recorded his parts from Minneapolis, while the subtly-cinematic, swelling strings came via New York’s Paul Wiancko, Michi Wiancko, and Ayane Kozasa. The final product balances sparseness and fullness. Strange, glitchy synths flit in and out, an echo of distant playfulness, but the main instrument is the depth of Wasner’s voice and how she uses space around it.
As a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Wasner has been a longtime omnipresent force in modern music. As half of beloved duo Wye Oak she’s worked with everyone from Metropolis Ensemble to the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and more recently she’s been a member of both Bon Iver and Sylvan Esso. But for all her collaborative expertise, it’s Wasner’s solo work as Flock of Dimes that is most salient, her songwriting at the forefront, strange, beautiful, and dazzling at the same time.
For Wasner, the making of this EP had to do with rediscovering the powerful, healing connection of making music, the peace it offers, the way it makes it possible to bridge a gap – and as such, Like So Much Desire strives to offer comfort during upheaval and uncertainty. Both sorrow and joy all at once, it looks at halves of a whole, the broken-up spectrum of human experience distilled into just five tracks.