In a chaotic world stuffed with stimulation, Florist offers a respite. Formed by singer and songwriter Emily Sprague, guitarist Jonnie Baker and bassist Rick Spataro, the Brooklyn-based band make gentle synth-folk music that, pared down to the textural and emotional essentials, still remains spacious and inviting.
"Glowing Brightly," the second single from the band's forthcoming album If Blue Could Be Happiness, is filled with the slow stillness that characterizes much of Florist's music.
Sprague's voice, sweet and clear, is tinged with melancholy here; she wrote the song while mourning her mother, who died in March. "Mom, I love you, I still hear your voice inside my sleep," she sings.
There are no verses and no discernible choruses on "Glowing Brightly" — over slowly strummed guitar, padding drumbeats and wandering, plinking synths, Sprague sings plainly and honestly of both her grief and the peace she finds in nature. Specifically, the Catskill Mountains. "[That's] where my imagination lives and where my internal world still takes place when I need to find peace in whatever pain my life is currently dealing out," she says.
The album was recorded in a schoolhouse close to that mountain range, very near where Sprague spent her childhood and where her band was formed. And though she had written most of the album before her mother passed, it was "in a lot of ways already going to be about and for her," she tells NPR. "I knew she would want me to finish it, and I needed to finish it for myself."
'Simple' can serve as a synonym for unremarkable — but it's this song's small, repetitious turns of phrase ("Arizona I wanna go there / Pacific Ocean I wanna go there") and images ("The memory of a life, a scatter shot, a tideless sea / Where the deepest is death and we are floating towards nothing") that keep "Glowing Brightly" from being only just.
If Blue Could Be Happiness comes out Sept. 29 via Double Double Whammy.