Inner Classics (Arts & Crafts Records)
Sometimes ascribing a name to something (a painting, a song, a poem) becomes easier after creation. One may not realized the extent to which her subconscious has been influenced by outside factors (e.g., geography, philosophy, scholarly text, etc.) until after the book has been written, or the painting has been painted, or in the case of Snowblink’s Inner Classics, until after the record was written.
Despite Inner Classics’s namesake, it wasn’t until after the record took shape that Snowblink’s Daniela Gesundheit realized how much the implicit influence of these sorts of outside factors affected her songwriting.
Inner Classics is a quiet and reflective album. Most of the songs either begin or end with a short set of vocal meanderings that sound like vocal exercises—a wandering, primitive gesture or a more sophisticated form of humming. In addition to Gesundheit’s voice, Inner Classics is carried by Gesunheit’s guitar. In constant conversation with the vocals, the guitar chords follow her singing and are constantly working to enhance the melody, which is a combination of low, spoken tones and soprano accents.
Written in both Toronto and California, Inner Classics straddles the seasonal elements of both: a cabin on a frozen Lake Erie and a beach house at the peak of summer. The record is a testament to this dichotomy. Songs like “Pray for Surf” and “Unsurfed Waves” conjure familiar images associated with summer, while the song “Black & White Mountains” inspires an image of a snowy and remote peak in winter.
But for all the sense of place on Inner Classics, the moments that most inform the songs come with departure: “Gone, gone and forgotten” (“The Best-Loved Spot”), “Everything here’s good as gone, gone” (“Goodbye Eyes”). “Safety Stories” reflects: “Can’t put my print in anything / Try and write it in snow / Try and write it in dust.” The contradiction of the obvious impermanence of writing in snow or dust with the suggestion that this is somehow a story about safety is just one of the record’s many rich lyrical inversions. The song’s last line warns, “Careful, careful, we’ll get everything we want,” and invertedly serves as a curse phrased as an aspiration. Regardless of this theme of loss though, Inner Classics is a record that is free from the ache of regret in part because Gesundheit’s musical phrasing and scale carry with them a sense of peace and acceptance.