Hi, I’m Charlie, and I’m happy to be allowed to introduce our next Fall 2019 band—but I need you to hold with me for a second because I’m about to talk about gravity, and I know that’s not what you came here for. You came to hear about Skout, the guitar-playing duo comprised of Laura Valk and Connor Gladney, whose website describes them as “indie folk with an edge,” who opened for Underwater Sunshine alum Eric Hutchinson in 2015, and whose music, if you’ve given it a listen, is somehow both arresting and electrifying. But I’d like to argue for a moment that Skout and gravity have a lot in common.
Have you ever climbed a mountain? More importantly, have you ever descended one? There’s a feeling associated with that descent: no matter how leisurely you begin, or how clearly you measure your steps, at some point in the descent you’ll find yourself jogging, or even running, with a grin you can’t keep down and a strange need to laugh out loud. It’s only worse when you’re with a good friend, since you’ll have each other to excuse your happiness. Obviously, this is all the effect of gravity. You’ve begun your walk down and found that you can move at twice your normal speed with half the effort, and for a moment, gravity allows you to believe that you are superhuman.
This is how Skout and gravity collide. Their songs, which usually open with a soft and steady rhythm on the guitar, fall imperceptibly toward an ecstatic tumble. Their lyrics are masterfully framed around this fall, and choruses like “Space in Between” do this with clever repetition and rhyme schemes:
I’m not ready to go yet
I don’t need to know where
I’ll be in five years
See I’m just finding my feet
I’m learning to breathe
In that space in between
Forcing a rhyme between “yet” and “where” and following it so quickly with “feet,” “breathe,” and “in between” with their half rhymes speeds up the lyrics, and the song reflects that in its driving tempo. The post chorus, which calls “there’s nowhere to go” several times, dives directly into that fall and allows the song to take on a force exactly appropriate to the exuberance and panic of the song.
That’s what is truly remarkable about Skout’s music and its gravitational pull: it is always exactly appropriate. They have a knack for finding the pace of a song, not for pushing the song past its natural pace—there is nothing artificial in their joyful sound. In the two singles they released in 2018, “These Bones” and “Space in Between,” Laura and Connor have found a unique voice. Don’t think that the songs all sound the same, either— “These Bones” is an evocative plea for a moment of rest between heartbreak and recovery:
I know that these bones
They might need setting
But it hurts so much less
If I’m not ready.
Lyrics like these speak unpretentiously to the way we as human beings approach emotional trauma, and Skout has managed to make a metaphor as simple as broken bones reflect all the turmoil and inner conflict of the recovery process. “These Bones” uses variations on this chorus to again build a song that feels like falling, but this time it’s as though gravity is inverted: you’re falling up the mountain now, isolating yourself at the summit to revel in the pain of your broken heart alone. This climb is so driven by instinctual emotion that it feels as effortless as the descent. You need to be alone, and you will be, but Skout’s song also reminds their listeners that there are people waiting at the bottom for when you are ready.
And for that descent, there is a whole discography of Skout’s music: two EPs and two absolutely remarkable singles, and hopefully much more to come. What we have right now, though, is like gravity: it’s irresistible. We can’t wait for you to experience Skout with us at Rockwood this November.