There’s something about the letter “s” in this song. Somehow, Seán McKenna, the musician behind indie folk collective Lay Low Moon, slings together phrases that emphasize the sound: “I smile on all those who estrange themselves… And I could not just be a slave to this / to all the other steel boxes and radio bliss.”

Shortly after, on top of hazy layers of “oohs” and the steady strumming of a banjo, McKenna sings: “I love the scent of the suburbs in the summer time and your sun soaked skin.” It’s a line that’s steeped in nostalgia, and one that evokes the same sense of longing and sentimentality that is captured by Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs (and one explored at length by Eric Eidelstein, when examining the Montreal rock band’s third album.)

“All Affirming,” a track off the upcoming debut On This Day Last Year, was recorded with a Boston folk supergroup of sorts. McKenna is joined by Daniel Radin (of Future Teens and The Novel Ideas) on guitar, keyboard, banjo and harmony vocals; singer Hayley Sabella, and Karl Grohmann, a drummer who has played with Sam Moss, Photocomfort, The Novel Ideas and others.

Radin also played a role in the recording itself, as the album was tracked and recorded at his home studio, Brighton Hills. “Recording at Daniel’s studio was an interesting experience—really eclectic artwork,” McKenna notes. Among the pieces was a huge print of a shoreline with two figures obscured by fog. The image, taken by Radin’s brother, Will, ended up being the perfect visualization to complement On This Day Last Year, one that resembled a scene from McKenna’s mind. 

“All before the recording process had even began, when I was conceptualizing and visualizing this album and the artwork, I had this dream that involved standing in a doorway looking across the street at a beach, and I could see the person—who many of the songs that appear on the album are about—along with another person standing blurrily on the beach,” McKenna reveals. “I then noticed that image next to Daniel’s bed and it seemed perfect. I had a very emotional reaction to it.”

The comfortable studio setting may have influenced the record in other ways. “There was quite a bit of laughter during the whole process,” McKenna shares as he discussed the recording process. Although the song itself is about insecurities and McKenna’s “self-sabotaging isolating nature,” that laughter seems to still be ringing throughout the track. It still feels uplifting, a sense of hope that comes with the song as it builds and drives forward.

“If I were at my home / I’d sit on my couch that smells like cigarettes / inside my house that isn’t finished yet / and I’d speak to you as if you were in the room,” McKenna sings, backed by harmonies, sounding very much not alone.

The album On This Day Last Year comes out on August 17th, 2018. Catch Lay Low Moon perform live at the album release show at Club Passim on August 26th. 

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