Keeping Time Together
Lucy Schwartz is only 23 years old, but she is no ingenue. The Los Angeles native has been featured on TV and film soundtracks, released a handful of EPs, and has just released her third album, Timekeeper. An indie-pop gem that incorporates orchestral, bubblegum and singer-songwriter elements, Timekeeper is a snapshot of young lives lived together.
Schwartz squeezes fifteen tracks into an hour; the album can feel a bit overstuffed. However, the strongest songs stand out, and the first track sets a high bar. “Ghost in My House” is about exactly what you think. Piano chords and the thump of a heartbeat create steadily building tension as Schwartz entreats her other-worldly friends– her “lonely souls”– to come forward.
From there, she mostly focuses on the still-living friends she has, promising solidarity (“Turn Your Light On Me”), celebrating the inviting warmth of a shared high (“Feel So Fine”) and turning away those who won’t earn her respect (“My Friend”). She laments and casts blame for the impermanence of her happiness with a piano-and-strings arrangement on “Curse.” A subtle electric guitar frays the edges, reminding us the feelings behind the song are not as sweet as it may sound. The same can be said for “Marie Antoinette,” as Schwartz dreamily sympathizes with the young queen until a cello slices through the dream, leading the angry mob to Versailles: “Here comes the flood / And they want blood.”
Many of the songs on the album can fall into the “dreamy” category, which makes the unabashed sugary bubblegum of “Boomerang” so welcome. Like an electric jolt, the wide-eyed ode to being in love (and then not) is a full-on charm assault and may be too sweet for some; the tap-dance break is a bit much. But the song is irresistible nonetheless.
The final third returns to gentler piano ballads winding around coming of age tales like “Fire Away,” “Happiness” and “Heaven”. Schwartz may not have much life experience, but she knows how to mine whatever she has. Growing up may not be easy, but is best handled with friends (alive or passed on, contemporary or historical) by your side.