Caroline No! - Swimmers EP
Caroline No – Swimmers EP
Released march 6, 2018
Caroline Kennedy – guitar, vocals
Ian Wadley – drums, bass guitar
Mick Turner – guitar, keyboards
Marty Brown – drums on ‘Unbeatable Odds’
Recorded and mixed at Big Moth Studios, Melbourne by Nick Huggins and Mick Turner – Unbeatable Odds by Mick Turner and Marty Brown
Swimmers EP feels like a cool dip in Caroline Kennedy’s (formerly of Deadstar) afternoon reverie, where ex-lovers, like swimmers in the dark, reach out toward one another over the radio waves. At it’s core, the EP floats somewhere between Kennedy’s romantic longing for a past relationship and her acceptance of their present divide. It’s a sweet trip, aided each step of the way by the delicacy of Mick Turner’s (The Dirty Three) discordant guitar notes and Ian Wadley’s charming drum-patter.
Swimmers opens with the piano-driven ode to lost love, Alex. Keys bounce off one another and straight into guitar riffs over drum taps softened by reverb. It’s endearing, a love note even. And it’s Kennedy’s refrain within this track, ‘I’m gonna stick like glue cause I’m still stuck on you’, that launches us into the EP’s dreamscapes of heartache, fragility, intimacy, and distance. And though we drift though scenes of her reverie, these are often at times very vivid, very personal memories of a long-lost lover she’s unwilling to let go.
Within the album jacket you’re gifted an A4 printout of song lyrics and a download code glued to the back of a 5 x 7” portrait photo-print of Kennedy herself. It’s a intimate touch to this limited release of 500 numbered records and it deeply personalises the experience. But it’s the lyric sheet that allows you to plunge deepest into the dreamworld Kennedy is creating here. Regular motifs surface in successive tracks, one after the next. Kites, radio waves, and mailboxes are but a few of the tropes used to denote ideas of a tethered distance, both in time and between the artist and her subject.
In Little Snake, the last track on side one, Kennedy talks of meeting at the fire, ‘where we know our own kite fliers’. The refrain is again repeated in the second verse, and it’s at this point you’re left wondering what does she mean? As lovers, are we all kites buoyed up by the wind, indifferent to the directions we’re blown in, or are we at the mercy of the kite fliers? Hard to tell. But Kennedy offers us insight on the following track when she directs this line, ‘you’re a flier. Watching all the girls go down’, at her subject. Here she alludes to the idea that perhaps others are at the helm of our flight, or at the very least this lover as the helmsman to Kennedy’s love.
Flip over to side two and the images go deeper still. Unbeatable Odds is the third track on Swimmers’ and its most self-referential. It’s a song written about an old lover riffing on the idea of writing songs about old lovers. It’s a critical track on the EP, too, because at its core Swimmers is very much an exploration of lovers or the memory of lovers as characters in song. It’s a work of reflection as much as it is a diagnosis of the conflict created by that reflection. But Kennedy never quite finds her desired resolution, resigning herself and her lover to their present, desolate fate in the final lines of the last track, Johnny: ‘you know we can’t go back /even if we want to’.
This is a small yet strong body of work by a collective of highly seasoned artists. No track is an island on Swimmers. Instead, they each work as an aggregate tapestry of mood through melody and lyricism, swinging on the tide of Kennedy’s shifting thoughts. It is a beautiful piece of work, and rare title to own (only 500 copies pressed) for any avid collector. Well worth the buy.