Released in January of this year through Friendship Tapes, folk songstress Mia Friedman’s ‘What Will We Do?’ is bound to be on this summer’s road trip playlist. Combining a mix of covers and original compositions, Friedman’s warm vocals carry listeners over imaginary country roads and fit right into that “pocket” that everyone always talks about. Starting off with a cover of The Carter Family’s “Sweet Fern,” Friedman employs call and response, pared down instrumentation, and a little bit of yodeling. Her version is softer, slower, and more delicate than the rousing, toe-tapping original, which is probably due in part to that version’s recording, (you can really hear those grooves on the vinyl, which are great in their own right). In any case, Friedman has an appreciation for her folk foremothers and forefathers and it shows.
At just around a half an hour, ‘What Will We Do?’ is a short and sweet one. In particular, Friedman’s original track “Socks,” is a bittersweet love song about deep intimacy. “I want to make my hands into your hands…Warm stomach against warm stomach,” she yearns. Lyrically, this could easily be dissected as something more sinister but the track’s blissful banjo and Friedman’s meditative voice put all worries to bed. When she sings, “Your lips like metaphor, perfect in my…” you tend to believe her. She’s like, in love with you.
The question posed by the album title is never really answered, but it won’t distract listeners from the music. In fact, it may add to feelings of nostalgia that may arise, and thus bring forth questions of their own. Who really knows how to love properly? What does that mean? How long can a summer exist?
In a limited edition of 20 cassettes, you better get yourself one before they’re all gone.