Izzy Hagerup has been kicking around the songs that make up Prewn’s debut album for the better part of a decade. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit however that she really had the seclusion needed to complete them. With a chance opportunity to write and record at Kevin McMahon’s (Swans, The Walkmen, Pile) Marcata Studio during lock-downs, she was able to focus without distraction, bringing her ideas to life. As a member of McMahon’s Pelican Movement collective the two already had a positive working relationship, and this was a chance for Hagerup to temporarily remove herself from daily life in Northampton to create without distraction at a difficult time. She’d spend the day writing, working to weave ideas into solid threads, watching the pieces come into place during productive uninterrupted sessions. She describes the immersive time spent in the studio as “life changing,” in large part due to the pure isolation where “creating was the focus and I could really be alone, leading me to find myself more prolific than I ever thought I could be.” The results are staggeringly beautiful and triumphantly visceral. Speaking about the process, Hagerup shared, “these were some of the most rewarding, exciting days in my musical life. I learned that so much of writing a song is just pushing through all the mental blocks and fears and judgements that get in the way.”
Those sessions along with some home-recorded additions (later mixed and mastered by McMahon) came to be Through The Window, Prewn’s debut album, performed entirely by Izzy Hagerup, bringing her songs to life with a distinctive touch. Due out August 25th via Exploding In Sound Records (Pile, Ovlov, Floatie), there’s an immediacy and earnest nature to the solo recordings, at its core it’s an outpouring of unfiltered ideas and emotions. Captured with brilliantly engaging vocal performances, structures that unfold piece by piece, and a sense of unnerving fragility paired with a reckless resolve, the control in Hagerup’s delivery and compositions are astounding.
There’s a heaviness to the writing of Through The Window, built on a disposition that could often be described as bleak, but Hagerup isn’t crippled by the weight, She’s reflecting, exploring emotions from varying perspectives. Lead single “But I Want More” explores her dad’s battle with Parkinson’s disease, something he’s struggled with her entire life, and the increased seclusion from his family resulting from the pandemic. As motor functions come and go with the ailment, the reality of it became increasingly hard to stomach for Hagerup, but there’s a sincerity in her reflections.“To witness his entrapment by his own body on top of such severe isolation during covid,” Hagerup shared, “was just enough to turn a highly detached gal into one with real feeling, enough feeling to even write a song that I really, really mean.”
While the recordings have sat semi-completed, Prewn has grown to become one of Western Massachusetts’ most in-demand bands, the line-up expanding to include Mia Huggs (bass), Calvin Parent (guitar), Karl Helander (drums). With full band recordings set to come in the future, Through The Window is an intimate introduction to the project, capturing a place and time, the songs urgently needing to find their way out. The attention to detail throughout the album is obvious, these are thoughtful songs, nuanced in construction, from the raw and pinched guitars to the stability (and lack of stability) in the rhythms. There’s a sense of warbling character in the music, Prewn’s songs are standing firm but on shaky legs. That’s the magic inherent in Hagerup’s writing, she’s steadfast and holding on, but she’s not immune to slipping in stormy weather.
photo credit: Silas Ray-Burns