Frances Quinlan, “Likewise”, by Stefan Zorn



I received a message from my children’s school yesterday that started with “Now that we are in week 7 of the stay-at-home order…”. Wow, 7 weeks already. It is amazing to think how quickly a new normal emerged. Shopping with a face mask? Check. Crossing the street when seeing someone instead of talking to them? Check. Sending death stares to some poor soul that coughs in public? Check. But the reality is that we are adaptable and will figure this out. Kids are the best indicator for how quickly we can get used to something new – so I know we will be alright.

But the reality is that we all long for something that is familiar when the world changes so quickly. I just had that epiphany when I listed to Likewise, the first solo album of Frances Quinlan. I immediately liked it, but was not sure why. Then it hit me – that voice, where have I heard it before? Hop Along, of course, the indie darlings from Philadelphia. Her voice is truly original. There are not many singers that use their voice like an instrument and you can tell that they really enjoy playing with it. Fiona Apple, maybe?

The album is a lot more whimsical and mellow than any Hop Along record. But the songwriting is still amazing. “Your Reply” is a great example of that. It is almost Dylanesque in the power of the observations and the strengths of the images that they evoke, but also a bit inscrutable – “Documentarians tossing lemmings stunned over the edge … Dinner, by the way, was divine”. I am not really in the headspace right now to really engage with a very deep subject matter (at some point in time I will write about “At the Purchaser’s Option”, but now is not the time), but this album is very engaging – and then there is that voice, of course. This feels like the perfect album for these times – thought provoking without being overbearing; new, but oddly familiar. I feel better every time I listen to it.

San Francisco Audiophile Society

San Francisco Audiophile Society