Posts Tagged ‘Florist’

Florist is a friendship project that was born in the Catskill Mountains. Recorded by Florist at 603 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.

When Emily Sprague moved to Brooklyn from Albany late in 2013, she was already honing her songwriting style: aching, blunt, quiet, but not sheepish. Then, in February 2014, she was in a severe bicycle accident and broke her neck and one of her arms. As she recovered, she began writing new songs, even more spare thanks both to her economical lyrical aesthetic and how circumstance had limited what her body could do.

Some of that music has made it to “The Birds Outside Sang,” the first full-length from the band Florist, an album that bubbles with Ms. Sprague’s anxiety about mortality. Often she finds herself at war with her body, like on “Rings Grow”: “I used to think I was leaves but I’m bark/and I’m peeling away/and my bones are the branches that regrow in the springtime.”

Her singing is frail but determined on this album, which hits like an intense whisper. She finds strength in her weaknesses and ruminates about a personal identity that’s ever changing: “I was born a boy with many opinions/and now I’m a girl who doesn’t really care about anything.”

Skeletal arrangements suit Ms. Sprague best, both because of how she’s singing and what she’s singing about. So the band, which also includes Rick Spataro, Jonnie Baker and Felix Walworth, generally gives her room to breathe.

But one of the most striking moments comes on the beginning of “1914,” when she sings, “Grab me by my shoulder blades and hang me out to dry/I’m a mess and I need someone/to help me out with that.” All of her bandmates are singing, too, in a sort of shambolic chorus. The mood is lonely but soothing — an acceptance that even though no one knows where we’re going, at least we’re not alone.

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“At least I know that my house won’t burn down to the ground… or maybe it will,” Emily Sprague sings in one of many direct moments on “Holdly”, her five-song debut collection of intimately sprawling folk songs. “If I’ve been in love before, and I’m pretty sure I have/ I’m pretty sure that my house can burn down, down to the ground tomorrow.”

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Florist’s Holdly EP — the one that led us to name them A band To Watch . The EP was actually recorded after their upcoming debut, as a stop-gap due to vinyl production delays. That makes The Birds Outside Sang their first full-length statement as a group, and they rise to expectation on its title track, which is more expansive and developed than anything on their previous releases. Everything is still tethered to Emily Sprague’s lithe vocals and weighty lyrics, but the song takes flight around her, each note exhaling with a Porches sense of longing. “Wasn’t the joke on me when I started to bleed?” she asks, building to a calming dissonance before dropping out with an invitation: “Do you and your friends want to come come into the field and watch the fireworks shoot up into the air?” Florist create some fireworks of their own here, but that’s ripped away as all of the oxygen is sucked out of the track at the very end

That interplay between certainty and uncertainty is what makes Florist so heartwarming and wrenching, and it’s something to look forward to on the band’s forthcoming debut, The Birds Outside Sang.

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Emily Sprague has been performing under the Florist moniker for a bit now, but the project’s broadly intimate ambitions are solidified on Holdly, the 5-song collection of sun-speckled folk that serves as a precursor to their debut LP due out next year. But what an introduction it is, full of brightly-realized and wrenching music that’s as innately appealing as it is emotionally devastating. Emily is part of the Epoch Collective.

What I love about the Epoch Collective from New York is the way central players in one band become the backbone of another. So where Felix Walworth is the center of Told Slant, he’s simply the pulse of Florist and where Oliver Kalb may play fiercely in Toad Slant or his own band Bellows, he’s more backdrop and scenic in Florist. Florist is where Emily Sprague moves from backup guitarist to central poet and singer. These songs are sweet confessional tone paintings. A lovely contrast to the volume of the week.

Florist performs at The Silent Barn in Brooklyn during CMJ.