Earlier this month, my dear friend Ellyn Maybe & Robbie Fitzsimmons released their debut LP, Skywriting With Glitter, an essential release for the adventurous listener who yearns for something brave and new. A composer and vocalist of prodigious talent, Fitzsimmons dances alongside Maybe's intricately-crafted poems that are intimate, yet cosmically gorgeous in scope. Each song is crafted like a miniature universe, and seems to limitlessly expand with each repeat listen.
When I go running in the evenings, I rely on a stable of "night albums" to carry me through the twilight. They range from Harry Nilsson's ethereal 1973 standards album A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night to Deep, Peter Murphy's third solo album. Each one is laden with its own atmosphere, and chosen thusly. When I bought Ellyn's new album on iTunes shortly after getting a sneak peek, I put it on my iPod and went for a midnight run, not knowing that I'd only get about 27 feet before I'd have to stop and walk slowly down the sidewalk for the rest of the way, so as to not disturb the delicate soundscapes that Maybe, Fitzsimmons and the recording engineers had created.
"The shadows seem familiar," is a line taken from "The Girl in the Wishing Well," a stand-out track on this album strengthened by the most consistent and heartrending motifs of Ellyn's writing that she's been exploring for the better part of the past twenty years - the intrinsic sweet sadness of a family's love, longing for a sense of belonging & dreams that seem just out of reach. At the bottom of the well, you can hear Fitzsimmons angelic vocals and Maybe's distinctive voice echoing upward - yearning to escape, and the emotional resonance of the song is devastatingly powerful.
"The Life of a Raindrop" is a nimble showcase of Fitzsimmons dynamic range as a performer and virtuosity on the piano, shifting from thunderous to sprinkling keys that skip along with his soaring vocalization. "Marathon" is propelled forward by a truly haunting refrain, "...one shoe at a time," and the piece addresses the struggle of trying to find your footing in a world that has lost its way. The entire composition stirs with a sense of weariness & dread, with trembling piano rolling ceaselessly underneath Maybe's sharp use of imagery and evocation of anxiety and fear. In the end, no matter where the needle drops in between the ten songs on this record - you're gonna land on a captivating piece of songwriting that you won't be able to shake for days after.
Skywriting With Glitter is available on Spotify, iTunes and through Amazon in both digital and physical format. You can also visit them at ellynandrobbie.com for more information about seeing them live in the Los Angeles area and beyond. If you have an appetite for poetry and music combined in a way that commands your attention, you cannot miss this release. If anything, it'll give you a great soundtrack for your next moonlight mile in your favorite pair of sneakers.