Squirrel flower’s album, early winter songs from middle america, is about as straightforward as you can get. While listening to it, it’s as if you’re lost inside of a snowscape, being kept warm by soulful lyrics that are boosted by a powerful vocalist named Ella Williams. With Williams as the sole member of this ambient folk effort, there’s little to get in the way of feeling the personal sting layered beneath the harmony in her recordings. Each song ends almost as quickly as it starts, mellow fragments that act as spokes on a wheel.
Some of my favorites from this album include the tracks “what was that?”, “i’ll go now”, “twisting slowly”, and “open door”. These songs showcase someone slowly overcoming what tragedy has befallen them. At times mournful, at times peaceful; early winter songs from middle america is undeniably human. Vocally, Williams arrives somewhere between Feist and Angel Deradoorian. Through the singular harmonies found throughout however, she is able to really make the vocal approach her own. Her voice bleeds cautious confidence, as it echoes across the emotional spectrum.
The artist states that these songs were “written in the middle of a cornfield on land with no hills and no water and a big sky.” This resonates with me, as I can imagine this music as a soundtrack to being lost during the solstice; like being trapped in a snow globe. Environment is always an important and under-appreciated element when crafting a musical landscape. Personally speaking, I feel that what I encounter of the folk scene is a little stagnant. I think that Ella is trying to ameliorate this situation.