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Album reviews
Artist:
Kerrin Connolly
Album:
Almost
Release year:
2020
Label:
Tarantucat
14 July 2020 / by Madison Zacharias (author)

Almost is an album worthy of many listens. What first registers as a catchy character study reveals itself as an earnest confessional. Despite wide-ranging subject matter (goateed alternate selves, the joys of plane jumping—no, I am not kidding), the album is loosely conceptual. In our interview earlier this month, Connolly described it as, “an exploration of almost as a concept. Being so close to the things you want but not quite, feeling like a passive observer to your own life.” 

The album is a sonic smorgasbord, featuring everything from the synthesizers to the ukulele. Layered vocal harmonies on nearly every track adds oomph to ear-worms and showcases Connolly’s knack for melody. The album lacks the polish of a studio recording, but this detracts little from the songwriting as tight and witty verses burst into soaring choruses. 

“I wanted to make something on my own. It was really important to me to have a collection of songs written and produced entirely by me,” She said, when asked about her intentions.

This DIY-ethos is at the heart of her online presence, with self-shot music videos featuring kazoo solos and a notebook drum kit. (Don’t believe me? See for yourself below.) She wears the title of independent musician proudly, every imperfection serving as a reminder that there are no excuses when it comes to making music. 

Connolly’s signature style uses comedy to approach difficult subjects—see the metaphoric twin exploring imposter-syndrome on 'The Evil One' while on 'Contagious' a lover enamoured with a zombie questions if ignorance truly is bliss. 

“I used to write music like it was strictly a diary,” Connolly explained, “But I found I would get sick of my songs very quickly… I can continue to draw even more meaning from the songs when they aren’t 100% about me.” 

In narrativizing her experiences, Connolly’s songs pack an emotional punch without coming off as mere personal excavation. The appeal of a love ballad sung by a distant satellite ('It’s a Conspiracy') or a post-nuclear reminder to look on the bright side ('Maybe It’s Not the End of the World'), is their potential to resonate with any listener. Connolly puts her finger on familiar feelings and infuses her interpretations with a comic sensibility reminiscent of influences like Jonathan Coulton and They Might Be Giants.

With the titular track, 'Almost', Connolly suspends the witticisms and instead chronicles her own struggle with creativity. 

“It’s been five years since the oldest song on the album was written and it took over a year from start to finish once I actually started production," Connolly said. "I was fighting my own stagnation and to have finally done it feels amazing." 

The song is an anthem for accountability and, at times, self confrontation: “All the space I need yet no progress to be seen/Nothing’s changed/In my mind.” At the heart of the song is a contradiction: its very existence is a challenge to the lyrical thesis. “Always almost there,” she sings, to a listener in possession of proof that she’s made it.

The album is a perfect companion during these lonesome and uncertain months. Wallowing in existential angst during the nth Jeopardy rerun? Try 'Thanks for Playing'. Wrestling with a post-COVID crush? Cue up 'Contagious'. There’s something for everyone here, and if you like what you hear you’re in luck: there is a thriving virtual community waiting to welcome you. 

 

The author

Madison Zacharias

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