BABEHOVEN – ” Sunk ” EP

Posted: March 13, 2022 in MUSIC

There are few musicians more trustworthy than Maya Bon when it comes to navigating life’s unavoidable upheaval. Since 2017, Bon has been releasing EPs consistently under the moniker Babehoven, a project which currently also features her partner Ryan Albert. Along with their past two records—2020’s “Yellow” has a pretty good reputation and 2021’s “Nastavi, Calliope” their latest, “Sunk”, completes a sort of triptych of grief, with each EP serving as a different stage in that process, both universal and personal. “Yellow” was immersive and unmooring, like the immediate aftermath of a tragedy. “Nastavi” was a reintroduction to a once-familiar reality. “Sunk” accepts that life has been permanently altered and likely will be again in ways we can’t possibly predict, and that there’s nothing that can be done about it.

Where the two previous EPs were more sonically experimental than Babehoven has ever been, Bon’s vocals do most of the work on “Sunk“, backed mostly by the simple strumming of an acoustic guitar. Before the album’s recording, she and Albert immersed themselves in Elliott Smith’s Either/Or, and its influence is immediately apparent.

opener “Fugazi” mentions a depressingly relatable moment that can reduce you to nothing if you let it: “He thought that he showed me Fugazi / And I don’t know how to explain how that feels,” Bon sings, audibly out of energy toward the end. Her voice, which is the strongest that it’s been on this EP, floats up the octave and into the ether as she sings, “You leave me breathless,” the wind knocked out of her. Later, on “The Way That Things Burn,” Bon offers the project’s thesis: “I’m thinking about the way that we learn / When everything is hopeless.” The EP’s straightforward nature conveys how comfortable Bon finally is with this notion; in fact, she wants us all to join her. “Creature” builds to a glorious final swell, a layered chorus with Bon singing the phrase “Everyone’s down” repeatedly up to the heavens, giving us permission to embrace that sentiment. It’s a massive relief, a celebratory giving-up of the highest order. Let it wash over you.

Bon is always extremely generous with the lessons she’s learned. This is the gift she gives us on each of her records, and “Sunk” is no exception. Over the seven-plus minutes of the EP’s sixth and final song, “Twenty Dried Chillies,” she offers them up plainly alongside a series of family memories: “It is a cruel sensation, remembering I am human / And I’m prone to accidents of heart.” This incisive assessment of her own environment is deeply personal, but she allows us to see ourselves in it.

The album art is similar: Albert hoists their dog Woody skyward like Simba in The Lion King, with Woody’s shell-shocked face situated under a rainbow and the EP’s title in Y2K graphics. Here we all are, and “Sunk” is an absolution and a blank slate as we move forward, together. As Bon sings on the beautiful “Get Better,” “Somehow, I just keep going.”

Nothing is obscured on “Sunk“. It’s all on the table, demanding nothing of the listener except empathy.

From the “Sunk” EP, releasing March 4th, 2022 on Double Double Whammy.

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