Album Review: Plum (2020) – Widowspeak

So much of it is centered around allowing things to be what they are, and just noticing. I tried to notice more, and I think those observations became the songs.

Molly Hamilton on the origin of Plum

The only word to describe my personal experience while listening to Widowspeak’s Plum is “emotional.” The album’s theme of Spring and Growth permeates, then gently absorbs every single track. Although released in 2020, this album came to me fresh, plucked straight from the tree of Widowspeak’s lauded discography. Primarily consisting of vocalist Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas, Widowspeak intended to expand, and to shed light, on the peace that follows acceptance with Plum. “So much of it is centered around allowing things to be what they are, and just noticing,” Hamilton shared in a press release. “I tried to notice more, and I think those observations became the songs.”

The album’s title track, which is cradled gently by Hamilton’s honey-soaked vocals, reluctantly embraces a diversion of growth between two people. On the surface, a perfect pair, but beneath the exterior lies differences and obstacles that are impossible to overcome, resulting in inevitable decay: “Feel the bruising through the skin / It won’t go back to being green again / Try to hold on to the sweet / Where the softness used to be.” The comparison between two very similar, but ultimately differing fruits meant to be harvested separately is representative of “trying to be more present with the fact that all things are temporary,” Widowspeak shared with Flood Magazine.

“The Good Ones” is a subtle jab towards social media and the hyper-positivity that is often displayed as “motivation.” Its parody-based inception is evident via its haunting, inauspicious instrumentals overlaid by seemingly inspirational lyricism. “There are no miracle fixes for life, no formulas for success. So it comes off as a little salty, and the mood of it is a little dark, slinking…” Hamilton shared of the track, “but I had been feeling frustrated with how society often rewards those who are already ‘winning,’ implying that anyone else is “‘losing.'” The track conveys this sarcastic undertone with the lyrics in the last verse: “Used to be an open door / Used to be, you wanted more / Every taste, it’s a feast / Every taste, I bet it’s sweet.” 

The following track, “Money” discusses greed, and almost feels like a temptress’s siren song. The track is “about capitalism and how it trains us to see everything in terms of value, even our experiences, and we get so caught up in seeking some return on investment that we ignore the damage we inflict,” the band shared in a press release. With driving bass, the track circulates, similar to currency– how it’s cultivated and then, sometimes unfairly and unethically dispersed: “To earn your living, it’s worth forsaking / All is forgiven and free for the taking.” 

I’d been sitting with some existential dread for the last year or so; honestly, sort of overwhelmed by the recognition that life is absurd and finite.

Hamilton, on writing “Even True Love”
Widowspeak: Robert Earl Thomas, Molly Hamilton

The fifth track on the album, “Even True Love,” is a humble reminder to enjoy the ride while it lasts, and that beauty– in both love and in life– is fleeting: “It’s nothing but the pull of going under / Maybe you can’t know, but you can wonder / You had the kindest eyes when you were younger / But it’s nothing now.” “Prior to writing ‘Even True Love,’ I’d been sitting with some existential dread for the last year or so; honestly, sort of overwhelmed by the recognition that life is absurd and finite….humans tend to want to possess things: objects, success, money, experiences, people. True Love. Amassing the most and best of whatever while you can,” Hamilton shared. “But that never really landed with me; I think this one is more about being present with the unknown, letting things go a little more, trying not to hold on too tight.”

The thematic presence of growth is felt throughout Plum, which feels alive itself, as though it’s both expanding and deteriorating. Whispering words of wisdom into the ears of all who cross its path, Plum is an album that firmly grasps the listener by the throat then kindly steers them toward the path of peace and acceptance.

Jessica K
Jessica K

Jessica is a writer in her late twenties and is casually withering away in the Midwestern Wasteland of Central Indiana.

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