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Babehoven’s ‘Water’s Here in You’ Review

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Babehoven’s ‘Water’s Here in You’ Review

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Babehoven’s Water’s Here in You begins with singer Maya Bon on bended knee, hands outstretched. “I forgive you,” she sings atop cascading harmonies and persistent guitar strums, extending an olive branch to an estranged family member who has fallen ill. The track, “Birdseye,” is a sobering meditation on reconciliation and repentance, a nod to the fragility of life, and the thesis statement of the Hudson Valley duo’s latest album. 

Few artists out there write a melancholic smasher like Babehoven’s Bon and Ryan Albert, whose swaying and unique melodies can make the listener feel like they’re hearing something totally new. Part of that disarming enchantment comes from the contemplative loop-like quality of the duo’s songwriting. Bon’s use of chant-like repetition can feel almost liturgical, as if her purely emotional confessions might someday become sacraments. 

Apropos of the its title, Water moves just like it does in nature. Babehoven often compare the concept of time to the element: It dilutes and purifies, sometimes standing still, other times refusing to stagnate. “Water’s here in you/It is here in me too,” Bon sings on “My Best Friend Needs,” a reminder of just how much we all hold in common. The 12 tracks on Water’s Here in You are stuffed with references to land and light that can be taken both literally and metaphorically, and everything is tinted blue — the album could serve as an audio accompaniment to Maggie Nelson’s book Bluets. For all its lyrical meandering, Water is punctuated by simple but cutting statements that land like a gut punch: “I want to be nice”; “I long to be someone new who never said that to you”; “I don’t have to be your love.”

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The songs on Water’s Here in You blend indie rock with folk and country twangs, occasionally venturing into shoegaze-y territory. At times, the music feels holy and hymn-like: distant, child-chorus-like vocals hover over billowing organs on “Lonely Cold Seed.” There’s a grandiosity to “Chariot,” a reverb-heavy, dizzying number that offers strength for the listener to borrow from — “This time you’re clean between/And you’ll be sparkling through the chaos” — and just when you wish the song wouldn’t end, it flows right into the extended instrumental on “Cherry,” a soft landing, a comedown, a postlude.

“Ella’s From Somewhere Else,” the final track on Water, is a head-bobbing Mazzy Star-esque ode to two Ellas from Bon’s life: fellow musician Ella Williams from the band Squirrel Flower, as well as her childhood dog. Bon lists off a smattering of memories with tenderness and specificity: eating snacks in a cornfield, jumping into a stream — “Five years old, five years ago, I first loved you,” she recalls. The gratitude displayed throughout Water’s Here in You is extraordinarily moving, and it’s apparent that Babehoven have a penchant for finding magic in the mundane.

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