Since the early 00’s, Erin Tobey has planted seeds in every corner of Bloomington’s music scene—she spearheaded heavier punk acts Abe Froman and Mt. Gigantic, and has since been involved in other self-professedly “weirdo” acts like lo-fi duo Brenda’s Friend and the moody punk four-piece Fat Shadow. Now she’s realizing a sound that’s more expressly her own—and vastly different from her collaborative work—with Middlemaze, her first solo album in a decade. 2005’s self-titled was an intimate record that carved space for delicate feelings with ringing electric guitar arrangements and raw lyricism, and this time around she’s made a record about getting older.
“I’m Young” is a song with immediate familiarity, a tenderness so big it feels potent. Erin Tobey could be someone you or I know; she reminds me of friends and myself as she revisits the freeing, elusive feeling of being young and invincible and not wanting your mom to call. She’s crafted a rich country song with a deep bassline and a melody that sticks—with support from her husband and brother to flesh it out with dreamy organs and steadying percussion. This song crowns her maturity: Tobey is reflecting on how she used to live, while also owning that, revisiting it. “My love is a deep, abiding love / It lives on the dance floor of the club,” she sings to narrate a younger self, with a calmness that befits her experience but a fervor that suggests that that love hasn’t at all diminished.
Middlemaze is out June 3 via Let’s Pretend Records.