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Photo by Ash Dye
The FADER’s “Songs You Need” are the tracks we can’t stop playing. Check back every day for new music and follow along on our Spotify playlist.
Romantic Piano, the new album from Gia Margaret, is a largely instrumental record. It follows her 2020 album, Mia Gargaret, which was created when the Chicago-based artist temporarily lost the ability to speak and sing. The language of instrumental music was one Margaret learned to speak fluently and Romantic Piano uses it to channel feelings of confusion and anxiety from the early stages of the pandemic into something hushed and tranquil, yet no less bracing for it.
“City Song” is the lone track on Romantic Piano on which Margaret opens up and uses her voice to speak. She delivers a message about the nature of memory and the ways in which things that feel insignificant at the time can grow retrospectively. “With one arm reaching out I can almost feel you,” she sings, her voice wrapping itself around the sparse piano and gentle drums that run throughout Romantic Piano. “And the birds still fly, I stay up all night,” she sings later on, threading the needle between nature and the internal workings of a restless mind. From there Margaret looks beyond the environment and into something more holy; reaching out, seeking some kind of intervention.
In a statement, Margaret elaborates: “‘City Song’ song feels heavier than the other songs on Romantic Piano in the same way that being in the city feels much heavier to me than being out in an open field. I thought it could serve as a more potent pause in a lighter natured sequence of music. An inversion to the way an instrumental song can serve as a brief but necessary moment of lightness in a heavier lyric-based record. It is partly reflective on core memory. It seems both random and fated that a passing moment can mean so much later on (and sometimes forever!). More abstractly, this song ponders a strange occurrence I’ve experienced: that a flash of memory can feel like a message from a spirit/guardian of someone or something beyond me.”