Suave and full of vocal allure the music of Quiet Takes is much like the ocean. Once immersed you find yourself drifting by, wave by wave. Losing track of the trials and tribulations of the world that surrounds us. Transportive and tender in equal measure, it’s hard not to feel at home within the melodies of the Midwestern artist.
Following the release of her latest EP, San Fidel, we spoke to Sarah Magill aka Quiet Takes to see what songs had been on her stereo in the recent weeks. Here are her picks:
Erika Dohi feat. Channy Leaneagh – Polaroid
This is one of my favorite new singles of the year. I keep listening to it over and over. Dohi created this cinematic combination of textures that riptides you into deep channels of emotion. After 4 minutes, my ears feel more alive and my brain is buzzing with new ideas. Bonus: The vocals come from Channy Leaneagh of Poliça – another master of sonic scene-building, another hero of mine. I discovered only this morning, after going back through some old phone videos on a hunch, that I’d seen Dohi perform Polaroid (and others off her upcoming I, Castorpollux) live at Eaux Claires Hiver in late 2019. We had followed a bagpipe player through the snow into this darkened church and filed into pews. The musicians came out unannounced, unnamed and played this transporting, arresting set. It was magic. And that was Dohi!
Sufjan Stevens – Tell Me You Love Me
I live alone, and even as an avowed introvert, I was not prepared for the stress of sustained pandemic isolation. This song became one of my healing rituals over the past year. I’d put the record on—loud—lie flat on my floor, close my eyes, and sing to myself over and over: ‘I’m going to love you every day.’ Promising myself I’d continue to care for myself, that I’d get through this. Defiance and surrender all at once. Somebody from Asthmatic Kitty said on a recent livestream chat that Sufjan has no touring plans right now. But I hold out hope for being in a sweaty crowd someday soon, screaming ‘I’m going to love you every day’ to each other at the top of our lungs. That will be the moment the pandemic ends for me.
Akkilles – Meet in the Middle
Akkilles is my producer David Bennett’s project. I’ve learned so much from him—about production, songwriting, perseverance and staying artistically open. He and his wife, Kayla, were real lifelines for me this past season. We figured out a safe studio bubble, so we could keep making music together. (My next EP—out this fall—was all recorded with David during the pandemic.) He has so much new music coming out this year; I can’t wait for it to get into your ears. It’s so, so good.
Sylvan Esso – Numb (With Love version)
I played a LOT of Sylvan Esso the past year. Late-night solo dancing was another quarantine ritual for me; Free Love and their virtual-concert-recorded With Love were go-tos. Numb will always make me think of New Year’s Eve 2020: I hosted a 10-minute outdoor, masked-up, socially distant dance party for friends right at midnight, but a few stayed to dance in my front yard for a couple hours, freezing temps be damned. At one point, we blasted Numb and shook, shook, shook…it felt good to feel something and feel something together, even if it was swaddled up in parkas and shaking six feet apart.
Ross Gay feat. Bon Iver – Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude
I love anything Justin Vernon does so much that it’s embarrassing. So that’s why I had the premiere of the Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude video on—knowing new Bon Iver music was promised—one morning as I sat down to work. I did no work. Ross Gay made sure of that. I just sat there and listened and cried. And then immediately ordered Gay’s same-named book and the whole collaborative album from Jagjaguwar, Dilate Your Heart. What a gift. I’m currently reading Gay’s The Book of Delights, and I return to this track whenever I need recentering—it’s impossible not to follow Gay’s joyous rhythms back to ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.’
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