erasing clouds

Ariel Abshire, Exclamation Love

by dave heaton

The subject matter of 17-year-old Ariel Abshire’s songs is unmistakably teenage. “Nervous”, which starts with the line “We’re underage” describes the physical/emotional fumblings of the young: “We will kiss until our lips hurt / truth is you make me nervous.” “Goddamn New Mexico” isn’t a political statement but longing for a could-be dream-date, in another state. Elsewhere she sings of anxiety – “something is happening to the interior of my heart / its stomach feels sick and empty.” That sick feeling, and the personification of the heart, embody the teenage years.

These songs are also unmistakably pop: a lovely voice singing great melodies, with touches of classic yesteryear radio-pop, and a general Americana atmosphere (she’s from Austin, Texas, after all). So call this teen-pop, if you will, but it’s also music that is uncommonly affecting, a mark of her exceptional voice, pure in feeling and sound; the no-frills approach to songs and melodies; and that youthful yearning.

The album is filled with tightly-crafted songs about personal dramas, given the wide-screen scope of cinema. “Spots” is an old-fashioned, hand-clap-driven pop song about analyzing each other’s surfaces, trying to figure them out. I also especially like the playful, less tumultuous song “I Didn’t Know People Could Do That”, a spunky tune with its own hints of ‘50s or ‘60s style. The album is bookended by its two most forceful tracks, which best crystallize those pains of youth and show that they’re universal, across age. The first, “Exclamation Love” takes the personal and makes it epic, while asking that eternal human question, “Why don’t you love me like you used to?” The last, “Everybody Does”, is where Abshire, wise beyond her years, takes all of these struggles and puts them in global terms, leaving us with one final statement – “everybody does petty things to feel loved.”


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