‘Love The Stranger’ Friendship Review

Dan Wriggins has only one of those voices. He makes the mundane interesting. For a decade, his drawl has been the focus of Friendship, singing about the little stuff: TV episodes that feel revelatory, extended silences during conversation, walking out of a concert and feeling an almost imperceptible shift inside. yourself. His voice is conversational and plaintive, observational and sometimes ironic but always searching and honest. It’s wrapped in music that’s deeply, subtly moving. On his band’s latest album, love the stranger, Wriggins continues his mission to capture depth in the everyday: “Intended to write what I felt in the moment,” he sings on his opening track. “Thinking, ‘Man, you better do it like it was / Or you’ll forget about it.'”

Over the past few years, Wriggins has built a songbook for himself – heartbreaking, intimate tracks, ones that don’t draw attention to themselves but leave a lingering impact. He did so with much of the same group of collaborators, a community of musicians who put weight behind the Friendship name. Backing Wriggins are Michael Cormier-O’Leary, who creates slick folk songs himself, ambient soundscapes with the band Hour and runs Dear Life Records; Peter Gill, who makes bite-sized pop-rock songs in 2nd grade; and Jon Samuels, who helps out with most of the aforementioned stuff and also has his own stuff. Wriggins, Cormier-O’Leary and Gill all grew up together in Maine, in a town called Yarmouth just outside of Portland, and they all worked together one summer on a lobster boat. They also all moved together to Philadelphia in 2015, at which time the friendship became more concrete.

Friendship has already released three albums — those from 2015 You gon’ have to trust me2017 Off-season shockand 2019 dream. The latter two were released via Orindal Records, the label run by Owen Ashworth, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone and Advance Base. Friendship has a lot in common with Ashworth’s own music – the same kind of leisurely beat, an outlook on life that tends to focus on the little things. The group also has an affinity for classic country singer-songwriters, and love the stranger finds them leaning more into these inspirations: Hank Williams, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, activist folksinger Utah Phillips (another Yarmouth native), to whom Wriggins dedicated an entire EP of covers last year. love the stranger is twangy and bubbly and can be gritty, yet still extremely pretty.

love the stranger is also Friendship’s best work to date, a sprawling album that still feels intimate. Even though it’s only 45 minutes long, it feels jam-packed with ideas: scenes you care about and sounds you want to stick with. It’s filled with warm tones: Wurlitzers and steel pedal and damped percussion. The tracks on the album are interrupted by soft, fuzzy instrumentals named after various convenience stores, ubiquitous places that turn into landmarks and place signifiers: Love’s, Blue Canoe, UDF, Kum & Go – personally, an album with a song named after the central institution of Jersey Quickchek is an album after my heart. These spots along the way make sense because love the stranger plays very well as a road album. The songs follow one another at a steady pace. They are like sketched portraits looking out the window of a moving car.

Wriggins writes about situations in a way that makes you want to know more about them and also tells you everything you need to know. On “Alive Twice”, he recounts a pointed conversation: “Under your eyeball spell I was getting lost/ Not in the good way you were talking about/ I remember one day, Cedar Park Cafe/ I was in a wrong place and you set me right / With your advice on my nose “What can a poor child do to occupy himself?” he laments “Mr. Chill,” a song from a solo EP Wriggins released last year. “Because I still need to love this little world/I can tell you things I can’t tell no one else/Because you’re not threatening to help.” “Ryde” is a song about the stupid things our friends do to keep us grounded: “You lied to me and you hurt me so bad/But you stayed when I was a tramp/And to the gas station in Virginia, you got me a shirt that said “Ryde until I die”.

Friendship songs often touch on the idea of, well, friendship: how the connections we make with people help us stay empathetic and alert, and how difficult it can be to stay open in a world that can often seem so cold and indifferent. . On “Chomp Chomp”, Wriggins judges certain people around him, then judges himself. “You’re still working on your big project,” he sings before giving his name to the album: “To love the stranger, to love the stranger/Love is the stranger wherever you come on. Friendship makes music that sounds inviting and sweet, and the main takeaway is that we all sympathize in the struggle together. Or as Wriggins says on “Sweet Pursuit,” which closes the album: We’re all “here in the greasy mess, hoping for the best.”

love the stranger was released on 7/29 via Merge Records. Pre-order it here.

Other albums of note released this week:
• That of Beyoncé Renaissanceof which we will have more information when it is released
• Florist Florist
• Amanda Shire’s Take it like a man
• from Montreal Freewave Lucifer fck
• Maggie Rogers Abandonment
• Chat stack God’s country
• King Princess’ Hold on baby
• Ithaca They fear us
• Perfumes PLASMA
• Sizes Patina
•Josh Rouse Go to places
• Deaton Chris Anthony’s SID THE CHILD
• $uicideboy$ Sing me a lullaby my sweet temptation
• Nav’s Demons protected by angels
• Hayley Kiyoko’s Panorama
• Beach rats rat beat
• Jamie T The theory of anything
• Murder by death Spell/Bound
• Emilie Yacina All the things compilation
A World of Music, Arts and Dance: Live at WOMAD 1982
• Jim James’ deluxe reissue of Regions of Light and Sound of God
• Fotocrime’s alcoves PE

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