REVIEW: Sweet Whirl’s “How Much Works” is Whimsy and Wisdom


How Much Works from Sweet Whirl presents whimsy and wisdom – playful with arrangements at various turns while melancholic lyrics and an eased off performance dominate. Sweet Whirl is Esther Edquist. How Much Works is out on Chapter Music on May 29, 2020. There is an unhurried pace to this record that invites introspection and contemplation; the listener is drawn into a dream like haze at once difficult to grasp and fully formed in mind. Piano, organ, and electric keyboard set the sonic stage and often interplay with minimal additional accompaniment as Sweet Whirl spins a web of lyrical conundrums as she attempts to navigate both the micro and macro pressures of life.

“Sweetness” starts this collection with tones reminiscent of an 80’s era Casio toy keyboards complete with a simple electronic back beat. The disarming nature of the playful arrangement sets the listener up to have the rug pulled out from under them as the lyrics hit, “I’m a stranger to myself, sleep walking at the best of times…this hurt is bittersweet.” The result is an engaging track that demands attention. As “Weirdo” first notes sound the casual listen is no longer. A balance of playfulness and seriousness continues as Sweet Whirl mirrors, “do do dos” with, “I feel like I’m damned to be a loser and a weirdo,” before concluding, “rip up the sign posts and throw them away, they’ve been saying the wrong things about me.”

“The patterns of nature got nothing on me,” Sweet Whirl sings over Jackson Brown-esque piano balladry as she snubs her nose at societal expectations on “Patterns of Nature.” “Something I Do” follows a similar arrangement as she finds comfort – if not a little boredom – instead of constraint in the mundane repetition of life’s patterns; she sings, “Nothing to write home about, loving you is just something I do.”

“If I could shut off this heart, I would; if I could cut out the part which speaks your name to me day and night and now there’s nothing else it’ll contain….if I could find another way to pay the price,” sings Sweet Whirl on “Make That Up For Me”. All whimsy has vanished yet she presses forward. The record ends on with the devastating note of “Your Love on Ice”; Sweet Whirl has been kind in her light touch throughout and now it is no longer time to pull punches. “Put your love for me on ice, now the party’s over,” she sings over a somber chorded hollow body jazz guitar strum as she contemplates her love now with another. “I’m just a harmless melody soon forgotten, floating on the breeze and gone,” Sweet Whirl sings; these melodies will not be soon forgotten however.

The depth of How Much Works grows with each listen. Give Sweet Whirl your time; sit and listen and let the chaos of the day drift away with a honey tinged vocal. Sweet Whirl wrestles with worry and woe in a way that encourages the listener to do the same. There’s a certain misery loves company ethos to what is happening here, but it is more of a collective struggle love company – there is no celebration of misery or call to wallow in your dread. To the contrary, the journey through How Much Works motivates resilience.


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