Considering the scope and context of this work, the title of Abby K’s new record, Where We’re At, couldn’t be any more applicable. The album is a set of songs that are a look in time at the in-between, what comes at the various points sandwiched from start to finish. A lot of works of art tend to examine the beginning or the end, but Abby had more unique ideas in mind when she approached the writing and recording of a new album. She attempts to look further at moments that are less prevalent or less thought of, which are often the most complicated and important times in something, such as a relationship, a friendship, or maybe just when considering someone’s life or existence.
Abby wrote and recorded Where We’re At in close collaboration with her husband Brian Marcus, recording the album at Seattle’s highly acclaimed London Bridge Studios. Primarily inspired by folk-pop, the songs touch on the truth behind what it means to be “getting by” with each other during a time of enormous uncertainty. The seeds for the record were planted when a planned trip to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary had to be aborted, thanks to the COVID pandemic. Finding themselves with lots of unwanted time on their hands and nowhere to go, Abby and Marcus began writing, and recording and the album and its themes took shape from there.
With the album recently released via Lawndaisy Records, Abby K joins us today for a special track-by-track rundown of Where We’re At, in which she elaborates on the roots and meanings behind each song.
1. “Where We’re At
Abby K: “This song touches on unconditional love. In 2020, as I was celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary, it was hard to see how we would navigate through all of the uncertainty. Funny, when you remove all of the noise around you and zoom in on the person you love, it all gets really clear, really quickly.
“As an artist, you often have to choose between creative and commercial success? While songwriting doesn’t always translate into ‘making bread,’ for me, the two activities were inextricably linked. The real rewards of creating often rise from the hard work.
3. “It’s OK (Not to be Okay)”
“In January of 2019, tensions were stoked like never before as our country began dividing itself along racial and political lines. With this tension already palpable, I wondered if the pandemic would be the true breaking point. We all looked for relief and permission to not be okay.”
4. “Rinse & Repeat”
“Inspired by John Prine. We needed a good laugh, so we found humour in the mundane moments that fueled our daily lives. For fun, we challenged each other to list out the moments that drove us nuts, but we’d surely miss.”
5. “Deception Pass”
“During 2020, while humans were at their sickest, Planet Earth was at its healthiest. Oceans became bluer, Orca pods thrived, CO2 emissions went down, and the only real traffic around was foot traffic. While hiking Deception Pass in Washington State, I wondered whether it was a mirage or a wake-up call?”
6. “Hayward, WI”
“In 2020, while every summer camp in the U.S. shut down in the pandemic, only one truly figured out how to make it work, safely… and my kids were there. Located in the northern woods of Hayward, Wisconsin, this world’s best-kept secret escape gave my kids a chance for freedom and friendship, while the world was standing still.
7. “Heavy Sigh”
“‘Oxygen starvation’ was plaguing our nation: Shortages of intubation equipment at hospitals, police brutality with George Floyd, and the smoke overtaking our skies due to forest fires. We had to teach ourselves to breathe again.”
8. “All Good”
“Complicity and complacency get us nowhere. Showing empathy and taking accountability is the only way to move beyond hopelessness. I found my voice on many topics during this time and used my art to move the topics to the forefront.
9. “Love Won”
“By November of 2020, the world shifted again, this time towards optimism. Science won over superstition, and seeds of accountability sprouted hope. Yay, love won over hate, after all.”
10. “Rectangular Box”
“After connecting digitally with new people for the greater part of two years, I confronted the post-Zoom era when people connected without the safety net of a video conference. What was life going to be like outside the rectangular box?”
11. “I Asked the World Why?”
“The universe works in wondrous ways. Those of us who believe that there is a reason for everything, discover that there is always a sequence of events that lead you to where you are today.”
12. “Where We’re Going”
“Pragmatism vs. spontaneity; where do two people take it from here?”