ERIN K – Sink To Swim (own label UPIGO01 CD)

Sink To SwimI didn’t know anything about Erin K but a description of her third album, Sink To Swim, intrigued me. And I was right to be intrigued. Erin Kleh is based in London with a taste for Americana. She writes songs and plays guitar and works with international musicians who gravitated to the UK over the years. Erin is also a talented artist. That much is fact and the rest you’ll have to work out for yourself.

Erin’s songs have been described as autobiographical, a description which fits the opening title track perfectly. ‘Sink To Swim’ begins in childhood and ends with Erin considering a man at the back of one of her shows. Should she risk approaching him? She is worried that it will go wrong but now we reach the point of the song, “Sometimes we all sink to swim”. ‘Breathe’ is deep song as Erin seems to be looking at herself from outside and considering…what? Stage fright perhaps? I don’t know but I can feel it.

The songs feel short but they are not. Erin packs a lot of words in and delivers them at a brisk tempo. On first listening I was frequently surprised that a song had ended – some do finish a little abruptly – and occasionally found myself asking “did she actually say that?”. I’ll single out a couple of the musicians: Ernesto Massimino is a multi-instrumentalist whose drums lay down a solid foundation for the album and guitarist Luigi DeCicco who decorates beautifully.

‘Goodbye Song’ and ‘Keep Her’ are opposites, both possibly based on real incidents, and both have a hard edge. ‘For Lars’ is clearly for a former lover and reveals Erin’s tender side and at this point I began to realise that she was beginning to remind me of Suzanne Vega an impression reinforced by ‘I Don’t Want To Play This Anymore’. But what is she playing? ‘Sealife’ revisits the watery metaphor of ‘Sink To Swim’ and the assembled cast seem to be having a good time as Erin breaks into ‘Panda’s Song’ and there is a feeling that everyone grabbed the nearest instrument to play the break. ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘No Control’ relate to particular personal moments (I think) and the closing ‘Something About Your Love’ is, for once, straightforward.

I like Sink To Swim a lot although I’m not sure that I’ve characterised it well enough. Where it sits on your musical spectrum I’ll leave to you. I haven’t decided yet.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Keep Her’ – solo live:

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