North Carolina native Jeremy Squires has long been well-known around these parts for making his own singular brand of intimate and darkly vulnerable folk music. His last album When Will You Go… was a great example of what his music is all about, an album which we described as “an album of sparse, melancholy Americana…that attempts to deal with death and the fear of losing loved ones.” We were very happy then when we heard that Squires had a new album on the way. Shadows, his third full-length, is a worthy addition to the Jeremy Squires catalogue, an album which “represents a continued brutally honest meditation on confusion, heartache and loss”. Having listened for myself I can confirm that it has all ingredients I think important for good folk music, namely candour, heart and quality songwriting.
1. Hi Jeremy, thanks for talking with us! How’s life in North Carolina this time of year?
Hi! Life is going pretty good right now. Where I live is pretty quiet and it’s been a little cold so I’ve had some time to reflect lately.
2. As someone from the UK, whose knowledge of certain parts of the US comes almost exclusively from music and books, the album seems evocatively American. Does the landscape and its people have a conscious impact on your writing, or is it just part of who you are and therefore shines through in your songs?
That’s a great question. Actually, I’m sure somewhere subconsciously it may… But I think it’s just a part of who I am. Where and how I write changes from time to time and I’m sure that the scenery and my experiences here have some sort of impact on my writing on a deeper level.3. The album, Shadows, is a great example of giving and withholding information to create a narrative flow. Do you work out the fully fleshed-out stories in your head? Or do you leave it up to the listener to create the narratives that exist beyond the moments captured in your lyrics?
No, I don’t ever write with a concept in mind. Sometimes it comes out (lyrically) in pieces and I have to figure out what and where certain things are coming from (like therapy) or a puzzle… I like the listener to create their own narratives and take what they will from what I have written. I use a lot metaphor in my lyrics but yet I still try to express a reality (my reality) to the listener. But I write it purposely in a way that the listener can get their own deeper meaning from the songs and still relate… If that makes sense?
4. The songs are often incredibly intimate and confessional, sharing thoughts that many people (especially men in certain communities) would usually feel they had to keep to themselves. Do you find it difficult to share these songs with other people? Do you ever consider the positive, comforting impact they could have on the listener?
With this new album Shadows. Yes and yes. It was very difficult. It is the most personal record I’ve ever written. I wanted people to hear it though and I felt the listener could take something positive from all the loss or darkness that this album conveys. Shadows was recorded over two years ago and during the process my marriage of 13 years ended, my mother passed away and I have tried to move on and all of this change and the struggles are openly shared throughout this record.
5. This is your third full-length album. How do you feel your music has evolved as you’ve gotten older? And do you think it will change drastically in the future? I mean, should we expect a Father John Misty-style reinvention?
Well, I definitely believe that all the changes and different experiences (divorce, death, birth, life in general, change, kids) that come with age have shaped my sound into what it is. I’m sure my music will change a lot more because nothing stays the same. Life and music would be quite boring if it did. I am currently finishing up with another record titled Collapse and it touches on some really personal experiences and issues as well. I don’t think I will go as drastic as “Father John Misty” but who knows?6. Anna-Lynne Williams features on several of the tracks and ‘Open’ is one of her poems that you’ve adapted into a song. How did this collaboration come about? Is she someone you’ve known a long time?
I’ve been a huge fan of hers for awhile. Since her previous band Trespassers William back in the 90s. I was fortunate enough to become friends with her a few years back and after we both contributed songs to a Damien Jurado project for the blog Slowcoustic. I reached out to her to sing on my last album When Will You Go and she loved the songs and we became mutual fans of each other’s work. So I knew I wanted her to sing on Shadows too. One day I had finished up the music for a song and I had the vocal pattern down but no lyrics yet… I just happened to see Anna-Lynne had posted a new poem titled “open” and knew instantly that those were the words I had been searching for. I love that poem and it feels personal to me and I feel that I made it my own. She is a great writer.
7. Finally, could you recommend 4/5 bands or artists you’re into at the moment? They can be brand new or long dead, smash hits or garage-recorded hidden gems.