For anyone in need of a bare-boned exploration of self in the forest, let Robyn Sherwell be the soundtrack to your woodsy existentialism. Sherwell’s music has a consistently earnest quality to it, which is a tribute to the dulcet tones of her voice anchoring each of her songs. With a soundscape as fittingly serene to accompany Sherwell’s singing, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to seek refuge in a more natural and cozy environment.
Cutting to the core of her own emotions is what’s most appealing about Sherwell. It’s something that’s truly within her, so even when she’s covering a classic like “Landslide,” she’s still able to make it her own completely. For nearly half the length of the cover, all she has are some subtly dubbed vocals anchoring the entire song, doubling down on the despair from Fleetwood Mac’s original. It’s a song we’re all familiar with, but Sherwell’s stripped down approach breathes new life into it.
It’s become a relatively fashionable trend for anyone with a voice as commanding as Sherwell’s to loop bits of hums and ‘oohs’ and use them as a layer throughout the song to self harmonize. Does it get tiresome? Definitely. Sometimes it casts a large shadow over the rest of the instrumentation, but if it’s done well, it’s hard to hate. “Pale Lung” is a prime example of Sherwell using this device with aplomb. She doesn’t revolve the entire song around it, so it never feels like a busy distraction. The layered vocals play their part in giving “Pale Lung” with a simplistic beauty that makes it so captivating.
Sherwell is set to release her debut self-titled album in March. It consists of songs from previous EP releases, her cover of “Landslide,” as well as a few new guys. One major highlight from the LP is “Tightropes.” The twinkling synths illuminate the senses, and the line, “I never dreamed I’d lose you up there,” is fuckin’ bleak. Using the idea of a tightrope as a metaphor for her relationship remains thoughtfully executed for the duration, and makes “Tightrope” arguably her most complete song.
The fully exposed nature of Robyn Sherwell can be a lot to take in at first. She lays everything she has on the table and presents it in a way that forces the listener to have no alternative than to listen to what she’s saying. Such vulnerability creates an authentic connection and brings about a desire to seek truth. That truth can be found in the woods somewhere or at a coffee shop that makes some really great tea. It’s different for everyone, but Robyn can help you look for it.