Squirrel Flower – I Was Born Swimming

A divination of self-love, I Was Born Swimming presents an exquisite journey back to distinct beginnings

Album Review by Bethany Davison | 30 Jan 2020
  • Squirrel Flower – I Was Born Swimming
Album title: I Was Born Swimming
Artist: Squirrel Flower
Label: Full Time Hobby
Release date: 31 Jan

'I tried to be lyrical / But lyrics failed me / So I gave up poetry'. Ella O’Connor Williams' lament introduces I Was Born Swimming, the latest release under her Squirrel Flower moniker, diving immediately into the intimately waxing lyricism that guides the record through its emotional torrents.

I-80 sets the tone of the record beautifully, as the sonically climbing foreword is led by both the voice and guitar of Williams; the band walking behind, accompanying but never overpowering. Inspired by her en caul birth, Williams sustains a mood both connected to and separated from the outer world. The album's final, title track is declarative though brief, dancing in the depths of scratching licks and aquatic imagery, and marking an end to the journey set out in the beginning of the record.

Brooding and hypnotic, I Was Born Swimming is delicately sombre, yet diverse in such a way that evades any risk of tedium. While the bulk of the record is a voice-led slow dance, Honey, Oh Honey! – with its tune reminiscent of a nursery rhyme – disrupts the near consistent melancholia and casts Williams' detachment through a playful lens. Slapback becomes the sonic antithesis of this, toying with a stormier composition, emphasising its vivacious lyricism.

Most significant is the beautifully morose Streetlight Blues. Evocative of the lasting sense taken from the record, it overflows with feelings of contentment in isolation. The track finds Williams indulging in heavier riffs, mirroring the depth of her self-indulgent lyrics ('All my friends are at the party / but I’ve got other plans / My body is buzzing as I start to dance').

A record constantly moving through scenic lyricism, I Was Born Swimming travels seamlessly from one track to another, casting a meditative shadow on each song it leaves behind. As it shifts between landscape and soundscapes, guided by carefully composed narrative and arrangement, it journeys to an end point that finds Williams relishing in her own unique beginning.

Listen to: Streetlight Blues, Slapback