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Likewise

by Frances Quinlan

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about

“We should try again to talk,” Frances Quinlan writes. It not just a lyric—it’s a suggestion, a warning, a plea, a wish. This request is woven throughout Likewise, her forthcoming solo album, amidst dramatically shifting motifs. Some are jubilant, some are dreamy and abstract, and a few are sinister, but within each dark void that Quinlan explores, there is a light peering back at her.

Frances Quinlan has built an identity for herself over the past decade as the lead songwriter and front-woman of the Philadelphia-based band Hop Along, and her distinct voice is among the most recognizable and inimitable in music. While the band began as Quinlan's solo project (originally titled Hop Along, Queen Ansleis), Likewise (out January 31st on Saddle Creek) is Quinlan's debut under her own name. To make the record, she enlisted the virtuosic skills of her bandmate Joe Reinhart, and together they produced the album at his studio, The Headroom, recording in stints over the course of a year.

With a renewed openness to explore different sounds, Quinlan supplements her typical guitar-based instrumentation with synthesizers, digital beats, harps, strings, and a wide variety of keyboards. The shifting and exploratory nature of these musical arrangements allow her lyrics and vocals—which have always been at the forefront of her music—to reach emotional depths like never before. Her vocal tones beckon a kaleidoscopic range of emotions across all nine songs on the album, from soft and ruminative to enraged and commanding; from conveying powerful messages to highlighting small, yet poignant, moments.

Quinlan is a voyaging songwriter. Throughout Likewise, she confronts what confounds her in the hopes that she will come out on the other side with a better sense of what it is to be human. She presents listeners with a complicated, albeit spirited vision of what it could mean to truly engage with another person, to give a small piece of oneself over to someone else without expectation. Although such is likely to be a lifelong effort, these songs prove evident that light can still permeate from unsettling depths.

credits

released January 31, 2020

Produced by Joe Reinhart and Frances Quinlan

Engineered by Joe Reinhart at Headroom in Philadelphia (“A Secret” and “Went to LA” engineered by Kyle Pulley and Joe Reinhart)

Mixed by Joe Reinhart and Ryan Schwabe

Mastered by Ryan Schwabe

Interns:
Johanna Buamann
Eric James Guy Friedman
Danny Murillo
Alex Melendez
Chance Halter
Hank Byerly

All songs by Frances Quinlan, Pintail Rendezvous Enterprises (ASCAP), except for “Carry the Zero” by Doug Martsch, All Smiles (ASCAP) / Universal Music - MGB Songs (ASCAP)”

Album artwork by Frances Quinlan, with assistance on layout by Jadon Ulrich and Nick Tazza.

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Frances Quinlan Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Track Name: Piltdown Man
Dawson’s Piltdown man
teeth assembled from that of an
orangutan
Why would he do such a thing?
Of course, 
what a stupid question

Outside our little tent
your dog must have caught something
I followed you both and let out
screams to be let in
Here comes your dad
annoyed but
wildly patient
6 am - so loud your mom had to kick us out 
We ran the wheelbarrow  
around and around

Last night I dreamt your face
changed through the doorway as
I pushed you panicking
Agonize in waking to admit
moments raging though
so very 
small
like this

Outside our little tent
your dog must have caught something
I followed you both and let out screams
to be let in
Here comes your dad
annoyed but
wildly patient
6 am - so loud your mom had to kick us out
We ran the wheelbarrow  
Around and around

A template, if there is one
I still think of 

Outside our little tent 
your dog must have caught something
I followed you both and let out screams
to be let in
Here comes your dad
annoyed but
wildly patient
6 am - so loud your mom had to kick us out 
We ran the wheelbarrow  
Think of the sound

In the afternoon you both fell asleep
Still knowing more than me
Track Name: Your Reply
Somebody wrote “tender”
in the novel’s margins
as if to remind about a precious force
In the next paragraph the protagonist
sat down on the belly of a dead horse

The author I read fell 
from a window, many stories high,
stretching out to feed pigeons
or a stray cat 
(depending on the website)

Whether or not I have
or was given 
a little more time
there just doesn’t seem to be 
much room for a reply
And it’s possible it only belongs
where it happened, fine.
According to John
fear softens into doubt
To what do I cling and think
is mine?
No reply

“Think the last time I came up this way
I was younger”
said your aunt, isn’t it a good line?
We found the garden abandoned and that night
became dark
over chicken and wine

Documentarians tossing lemmings stunned
over the edge
Wartime juveniles shot and martyred for the
crime of stealing eggs

Dinner by the way
was divine
I drank the last of the coffee 
waiting for you to rise

Whether or not I have
or was given 
a little more time
there just doesn’t seem to be 
much room for your reply
And it’s possible it only belongs
where it happened, fine.
According to John
fear softens into doubt
To what do I cling and think
is mine?
No reply
Track Name: Rare Thing
My love,
in the dream
you were already speaking
I was too shocked to make 
any one of my tired speeches
Listen,
that’s a rare thing for me

Sunlight touches on the
plants that I’ve been torturing
Yet when I come over
I love that quick delay before
your face alights
in recognition

I know there is
love that doesn’t have to do with
taking something
from somebody
was so much for me
not real? I only managed to stay small by
making giants out of strangers
Through the chaos I can see
all afternoon you inhale
every bouquet you meet

Come to think of it,
the dream
was a nightmare
with no one who knew me 
just then
you were there 
2 foot tall little bear, you
took my hand and
introduced me to everybody
I watched as you were named on
that mid-February morning 

I know there is
love that doesn’t have to do with
taking something
from somebody
was so much for me
not real? I only managed to stay small by
making giants out of strangers
Through the chaos I can see
all afternoon you inhale
Every bouquet you meet
I have to stop myself and admit I am happy
 
there is
love that doesn’t have to do with
taking something
from somebody
was so much for me
not real? I only managed to stay small by
making giants out of strangers
Through the window you look at me

I have to stop myself and admit 
you make me happy
Track Name: Detroit Lake
Quick
the hawk took the poor thing
just to the left of me
You were mid-sentence when
I had to interrupt you 
in order to relate

Two grey stripes
flew up out of sight
I mean one—
the other no longer struggling

“I cannot hear you,”
laughing up the mountainside
Unobserved, my voice grew
increasingly gruesome in the quiet

Turns out
one can lose nonetheless
looking for witnesses

Miles from all 
that’s between us at stake
algae blooms up in Detroit Lake
Listening for my turn to come next
Leave, the same as I came in
more or less

Across the table words fly 
underdone they rarely collide
Former wells are exhausted
so you pose the question—
Are pigeons ever
carnivorous?

Turns out
sometimes, yes
Looking for witnesses

Miles from all 
I believe is at stake
Algae blooms up in Detroit Lake
Listening for my turn to come next
Leave, the same as I came in
more or less
Track Name: A Secret
Last time I was here-
changing the subject, 
“Just look at the lawn” you said,
“It shouldn’t be so green in December, 
do you think we should worry?”

It’s been a long time
since we argued and
that argument ended
You walk in and out of pain
like a tide

How did you want me to look
even older?
even older?
how did you want me to look?
even older even older
don’t tell me where
you’ve been
Ok

Of course I’ll visit when I can
-Of course you’ll visit
when you can-
Of course I’ll visit when I can
of course I’ll visit
when I can

I’m not making a fuss
I’m not making a fuss
Most of this isn’t even
a secret

Impossible questions, like:

How can you still talk
to them?
How can you still talk
to them
when that long shadow 
stretches from
their little house
all the way to the top
of your mountain?

But of course you’ll visit 
when you can of course
you’ll visit
when you can…

And when I said justice
it just isn’t what 
I meant at all

I dare not speak for you,
but I look forward to

remembering him as a bad man,

and that’s it
Track Name: Went to LA
Yes, 
I still worry about it
Out of self-preservation did I 
begin with tenderness?
The cannibal dragged his son 
into the kitchen
Outside, the deaf man fled the barn
abandoning every
father’s image

Sure, sure
I went to LA
together with my maid
she was awful quiet
her hands were
shaking in the donkey’s mane
I went to LA,
searching for my own face
I couldn't find it in the dry
toothy maw of the lake

Heaven is a second…

Thought you summoned horses
thought you summoned childhood
Oh the humiliation of having 
been perfectly understood
If I could observe
beyond every open mouth
men always end up telling you the truth
I can see it now

Every night is a lesson
down a long hallway
Good God this house,
get me away

Sure, sure I went to LA -
what other choices could I make?
I sing along the road
an idiotic smile on my face

I went to LA
It was easy in the first place-
Wait,
wasn’t I with a friend?
What difference does it make

The owner of
the laundromat
gave me a ride home 
she said she saw
me come in alone

Heaven is a second chance
Track Name: Lean
“Leeza, show them your doll-”
a tiny face up on the balcony
of a capuchin- huh, I wonder what happened
after the fed up remaining staff
all stormed in
Was she, free of a master
released?
Or handed to a kinder custodian
at least?

Nonetheless, 
upon the sight of her your group sped off
leaving behind a doomed lord
looking down 
from the top

Jessie, I still can’t
stand hearing the truth
Let’s have one more about other countries
I know you have to get up early, 
but it’s what I need

Wish I could have caught
the expression of the captain upon
waiting for the ship hand with whom he 
(through email) corresponded…
Only to see
you pull the truck door open, and
reach out 
to shake his hand

Jessie,
can I crash
here with you tonight?
Although my contribution’s been lean…
Woman, love follows where you’ve been
Your legs can take it 
just a few more times

I know it isn’t fair
Stories struggle for air
and I need yours
more than ever

climb one more mountain for me, woman
Track Name: Now That I'm Back
Woman woke up early
heard a scraping 
near her brain
Imagine when the doc took out the roach
how much she must have changed

Afterwards 
it dawned on me
I heard noise from every corner
and one night, ate 
Raid-seasoned spaghetti

Look up,
the metal sign
clangs in the wind from a wire
Talk small, if at all
my news is blind 
and on fire

Only me and big trucks 
lost, driving from upstate alone
I came in she had on 
that white uniform
I had my first coffee with her 
that morning at home

Victory,
gold plated over 
violence
No presence save for
memories spiraled and bent
In your bedroom 
Voltaire’s severed head
stared me back to bed
You’ve done your best
all the way to the end

Balloons in a foreign park
Shadows of the dance class merge 
and come apart
Cough in the mirror, I’d forgotten to call
Now that I’m back
we should try again to talk

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