“Right from the start, Spiral Groove pulls us into a rhythmic soundscape, erupting over and over with guitar, piano, synth, drums building and subsiding and returning again with joyful urgency. Above it all Stewart Bronaugh sings cool and steady about his close experiences with death, what it means to endure your losses and the gift of being able to recognize the most real love in your life.” Angel Olsen
Lionlimb, the project of Angel Olsen’s bandmate, Stewart Bronaugh is releasing his third album, Spiral Groove, on November 12th on Bayonet Records.
Spiral Groove is a timeless, romantic collection of songs, born out of Bronaugh’s recovery from a neck surgery. Piano, cello, slide guitar and buzzing synth lines wind in and out comfortably over the course of this 31-minute album. Studded with stories of mortality, the challenges of addiction and sobriety, and the romance of a lifetime, Spiral Groove encapsulates all of our existential questions into tidy love songs. The name derives from a channel in the arm your nerves run through while simultaneously painting the picture of a needle dropping onto a vinyl LP.
Written and conceived before Covid-19, these songs were shaped by real-time feedback and the alchemy that happens when a group of well-seasoned musicians gather together. Bronaugh’s compositions found life in the hands of long-time collaborators Joshua Jaeger and Jonathan Sumner. Jaeger’s drumming is intuitive and full of care, creating space for the kind of cello and guitar riffs that flow like water. With Sumner’s rich bass playing following suit, they comprise a rhythm section that sets the stage for Bronaugh’s songwriting. Spiral Groove was inevitably shaped by this chemistry, the essential quality of each song revealing itself during rehearsals and live shows.
As the world shut down during the final stretch of the Spiral Groove mixing process, the downtime gave Bronaugh the opportunity to delve into design. Inspired by early animation techniques and handmade cinema, he was able to build out lyric videos with a lush but low-tech aesthetic. Though he doesn’t self-identify as a painter, the visual components of Spiral Groove speak for themselves. Experimental fonts and a kaleidoscopic layout recall the “psychedelic experience” of having a seizure that left Bronaugh suddenly aware of the limits of his own body. Angel Olsen describes the “joyful urgency” in these songs–they are like a hopeful spell for life after the end of the world.