Beginnings, ends and the in-betweens are among the themes that Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Eliza Edens explores on her stirring sophomore set, We’ll Become the Flowers. The folk-flavored album, which is slated for release on October 14, possesses a cinematic quality due to the scene-setting lyrics, which eschew platitudes for specifics; and, too, due to the 35mm-like grain that flickers through Edens’ plaintive yet powerful vocals.
“How” opens the first short film mid story, aka in the in-between, with certain things left unsaid: “How do I get there?” she asks. She’s not seeking a particular destination, mind you, but something a tad more metaphysical: “I tried to start by weeding through/The trauma in my bones/To rearrange the memories/Forgive and not keep score.” It could well be about a broken relationship—but it could be about something worse, too. “Westlawn Cemetery,” which was inspired by a stay with her parents in her childhood home during the pandemic, follows; as she noted in the press release, “It’s all about the difficulty of accepting change and death.” “I Needed You,” which follows, finds her kinda-sorta unsure about staying in or leaving a relationship; it’s a tasty little kiss-off.
“North to South” finds her and her ex heading in different directions, though her memories of their time together linger. “Ineffable,” meanwhile, tackles one of life’s unpleasant challenges: Watching a loved one wither—be it physical, mental or both—before our eyes. “There’s a thousand little words/I could string ‘em all together/But it wouldn’t make sense of the same strangeness of it all.” Amen. “For the Song” shares a songwriter’s lament: “Tired legs, tired lips she tries to muscle on/With every breath she draws in through her lungs/And every route that led here leads to where she’s goin’/She’ll rise and she’ll fall and she’ll try for the song.” There’s more to it than that, of course.
“Tom and Jerry” sounds like a lost Melissa Manchester song from the mid-1970s, just about; the only thing missing is a slew of background vocals on the chorus. Anyway, as one might surmise from the title, it was inspired by the cartoon cat and mouse who were a mainstay of Saturday mornings for generations. She uses them as a launching pad to explore the cat-and-mouse quality of a relationship gone bad. Stylistically speaking, it’s somewhat out of place…and yet not. It’s a fun track.
”Jimmy, Come Back” continues with the yin-yang aftermath of a broken relationship, when one does and doesn’t want the other to walk back through the door. “To See Through” digs deeper into the uncharted territory every young person finds him- or herself in, eventually. The album closes with the heartfelt “Julia,” which finds Eliza unable to help a loved one due to distance: “Thought I’d be there standing next to you/Always supporting through hard times/But it’s a different town and it’s a different plan/Trading control for a blank canvas and a new life.” Here’s a stirring live version that was recorded in May 2022:
I first listened to We’ll Become the Flowers in late July and have returned to it time and again since then. It possesses a quiet power, forever pushing itself to the foreground no matter where one’s attention lies, reminiscent to an extent of Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin. In another era, no doubt, songs from it would have littered the playlists of AAA radio stations. I’m not sure where it falls in today’s world, but let’s hope that the word gets out. Eliza Edens is a talented singer-songwriter whose work deserves to be heard.