by Emma Shepard (@hugejourneyfan)
Year of the Rabbit opens up with the title-track; the lyrics break your heart, but you don't even realize because they're candy-coated by front woman Gabby Smith's angelic vocals. Smith has mastered indie pop love songs with sweet, upbeat vocals combined with poignant, bleak lyrics. She has a way of making you get up to dance while simultaneously provoking thought and personal reflection- feeling like a prom with colorful decor, mixed drinks with toothpick umbrellas, and every single one of your exes in attendance.
Eskimeaux is Gabby Smith's songwriting project, Smith exclusively writing music and lyrics. However, a star-studded cast of indie musicians are featured on this release. Jack Greenleaf (Sharpless), Emily Sprague (Florist), and Oliver Kalb (Bellows) all contribute arrangements, as well as Felix Walworth (Told Slant / Florist) whose signature drum-style brings a great deal to the album. After Walworth kicks in after the second verse of the opening track, the dynamic completely shifts- the song bursting from a wholesome, quiet vocal landscape into a flowery pop anthem.
"Power," the debut single, is a three minute love letter clouded by honesty. In the spirit of accountability, Smith sings "you can be so anti-social / and I can just be terrible." Dreamy, gentle synth sounds hum over the track, adding a layer of whimsy and dreaminess. The song fades out, and the next track abruptly begins. "Drunk" is a personal song, inviting the listener for a small glimpse into Smith's lifestyle and relationship. It begins with our tipsy protagonist getting a night away from their hectic agenda. It lyrically captures an intense feeling of longing- standing where you are and wanting to be elsewhere.
Year of the Rabbit has a slightly darker tone than it's predecessor, O.K. Melodically, YOTR feels like a classic Eskimeaux album. It chronologically fits into Smith's discography like a glove. Lyrically, Smith matures with each release. In a short amount of time, the album hits on themes of personal growth, insecurity, fear, love, and lust. Her words are sometimes decorated, and other times very blunt. It's sort of a Whitman's sampler of all the more complex feelings that stem from growing pains. Smith's words dive into each emotion they explore and fully immerse themselves, at the end the listener feels full and fulfilled- wanting to celebrate, then curl into a ball and cry for a minute.