Finnish singer-songwriter Astrid Swan introduces her new studio album, D/other, via Soliti/Playground. The album follows 2017’s From the Bed and Beyond, which received the Teosto Award and was nominated at the Emma Awards.
Talking about the album, Swan shares, “I set out to write about mothering, being a daughter and a mother. I was informed by the simultaneous research process for my Ph.D. which investigates maternal life writing in blogs and memoirs. The title ‘D/other’ comes from this research. It is a mother/daughter in digital form and a trans-affirmative concept which argues that mothering is done by anyone who performs care. In my songs, I wanted to explore sleeping and dreaming as states of unconsciousness which connect us to each other, and to different times and to those who are dead and that which is in the future. I wanted to explore the logic of the liminal and intra-active, that which slides and transforms. I focused on clear, comforting, and uplifting lines, trying to crystallize what I do melodically. In this case, the lyrical depths are presented in comforting pop structures.”
Swan’s music merges pop flavors with “cold weather poetry,” and sits on the brink of art and pop. In 2019, she published her memoir, Viimeinen kirjani, in which she explores mothering, artistic development, and metastatic breast cancer while considering her experiences in the contexts of class, feminism, whiteness, cultural influences, romance, and illness culture.
Encompassing 10-tracks, entry points on D/other include “Drift,” which opens on a gorgeously elegant piano, soft and austere. Swan’s plush voice, at once whispery and evocative, imbues the lyrics with tender, lilting timbres as gentle strings give the melody delicately glowing radiance. Then the tempo shifts, transitioning into a luscious alt-pop rhythm.
“Not Your Mom” may be the album’s premiere offering, rolling out on a tasty pop rhythm colored by a sparkling piano. Swan’s voice infuses the lyrics with buoyant textures.
Swan explains “Not Your Mom,” saying, “Mothers sleep at night (or at least wish to). In their sleep, they cannot mother, because they go away into dreams, just like the kids they tucked into bed in the evening. At night mothers are adrift in the world, they have their secrets, their past selves, and their current desires. In the morning mothers are back but dreaming renews them and makes them better in the day.”
“Joking After The Apocalypse” travels on creamy undulations of pop with hints of pop-country running through it. Whereas “In The Woods” features rounded, rumbling drums, along with Swan’s luxurious vocals.
The final track, “Daughter,” starts off low-slung and luminous, almost as if filtered, and then, following a wavering interlude, takes on a fat bassline juxtaposed against gleaming coloration. On this track, Swan’s voice displays delectable nasal tones.
D/other is not your usual pop album, brimming with bouncy melodies and vibrant energy. Instead, Astrid Swan presents lustrous flows of innovative pop amalgamated with cashmere art-pop savors.