Squirrel Flower - Planet (i)
A full bodied and rich follow up to her lush 2020 debut.
Williams wrote most of the songs on Planet (i) before the COVID-19 pandemic, but disaster looms large in its DNA. Susceptible to head injuries having played a lot of sports in her youth, Williams received three concussions from 2019-2020. Amidst the chaos of touring internationally during her own healing process, she began weaving threads between her physical and personal sense of ruin and her lifelong fear of the elements: of being swept up by storms, floods, and the deep ocean. "To overcome my fear of disasters", Williams says, "I had to embody them, to stare them down". This journey of decay and healing is the lifeblood of Planet (i).
Once quarantine set in, Williams began to produce demos in her room, amassing a collection of more than 30 recordings. Feeling a sense of artistic synchronicity over international phone calls with producer Ali Chant (PJ Harvey, Perfume Genius), and with newfound covid antibodies, Williams flew to Bristol, UK in the fall of 2020 to record Planet (i) at Chant’s studio, The Playpen. "We had this shared creative language", she recalls, "and the recording process was, like my demo process, very sculptural. Instead of recording live with a full band, we built this record layer by layer, experimenting, taking risks". While Williams and Chant played most of the instruments on the record, Bristol drummer Matt Brown and Portishead’s Adrian Utley also joined their sessions. When Chant suggested the idea of backup vocals, Williams, whose voice had until now stood alone in her songs, enthusiastically enlisted friends and family to join her remotely with their voices and instruments; Tenci’s Jess Shoman, Tomberlin, Katy J. Pearson, Jemima Coulter, Brooke Bentham, and her brothers Nate and Jameson Williams, as well as her father Jesse. The songs on Planet (i) are Squirrel Flower’s instruments for connection: with the people in her life, her collaborators, audiences, and ancestors; a lineage of artists whose spirits continue to inform her art. At the heart of this record is an insistence on connection and healing in the face of catastrophe.
On Planet (i), Squirrel Flower reveals a bright and uncompromising vision, confident in her powers of self-healing and growth. No matter what the disaster ahead of or within her looks like, and no matter how she shape-shifts to meet it, Squirrel Flower will always be a world of her own, a space-rock flying down the road in flames and flat tires.
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