Something truly new from a bleeding heart
Most people are absolutely terrified of having all the dirty laundry in their personal life aired out for the public. Oddly enough, that worst nightmare for some people is the bread and butter for some of the bravest artists in the world, artists like Sarah Mary Chadwick. Her commitment to exploring her flaws, mistakes and personal issues on wax is genuinely admirable, and her newest project Me and Ennui Are Friends, Baby is no exception.
Track after track, Chadwick dives deep into her insecurities and seemingly disastrous personal life. She focuses on her romantic life, her relationship with her mother and how these aspects of her life experience intertwine, but there is much to be learned from her experience in a variety of ways. There are sweeping lessons of loyalty, commitment and honesty worked in throughout the 42 minute project, and Chadwick boldly uses her negative experiences as a lens through which one can better understand their own successes, failures and demons.
The project starts with “A Mother’s Love,” a fantastic introduction to the album’s themes. Chadwick spends the song ruminating on the hole left by the absence of a mother’s love, and her various attempts (and subsequent failures) to fill that hole. Much of the project is built like this first track—sparing piano, a spoken word cadence, an embrace of vocal imperfections and incisive lyrics that dissect the nature of love and its many forms and contradictions. The following track, “At Your Leisure,” explores Chadwick’s inability to detach herself from a lover that she fully recognizes doesn’t respect her in the way that he should.
“That Feeling Like” reveals one of the album’s few flaws. There are moments at which Chadwick could’ve used a second set of ears, as far as her vocal performance goes. While they are actually quite endearing on most other tracks, Chadwick’s vocal inaccuracies around the “that feeling…” refrain quickly grow old on this track. “Every Loser Needs A Mother” further explores the way that desire and maternal tendencies can linger, even after a significant other is revealed to be a waste of one’s time. “Me and Ennui Are Friends, Baby,” a highlight, relays the details of a suicide attempt and what life was like for Chadwick after that moment. It’s absolutely devastating.
“Always Falling,” “Full Mood” and “Let’s Go Home” all pick apart Chadwick’s tendency to develop intense feelings for people with whom she has no real future. Around this point in the project, it becomes difficult to ignore just how little the instrumentation has changed from the first track to now. Chadwick relies heavily on the piano, and while it generally works for her since her lyricism is so incredible and her voice is so distinct, this reliance can definitely reach a breaking point on a full-length project like this.
One of the best parts of Chadwick’s style is that no corner of love remains untouched by her pen. She explores the moments of intense exaltation without ignoring the all-consuming devastation that begets our most embarrassing romantic failures. The final four tracks of Me and Ennui Are Friends, Baby offer interesting perspectives on jealousy, possessiveness and the practically biblical emotional weight of a confusing breakup (notably, all four still rely heavily on sparing piano keys).
Many of the best works of art feel like an exposed nerve. They’re so nakedly emotional that it almost feels like you’re processing a piece of someone to which you should’ve never even had access. Creating something like that takes genuine bravery, and even less-than-perfect art in this vein, like Sarah Mary Chadwick’s Me and Ennui Are Friends, Baby, can still leave a significant impact. This is an album that has the potential to provoke moments of very real reflection in the listener. This is an album from which the listener learns—the artist’s catharsis and honesty is their lesson.