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MY RECORD COLLECTION: Sweet Whirl’s five records to grieve to

Writing by Molly Mckew // Sweet Whirl has just released her latest album How Much Works, a beautifully crafted, emotive journey into songwriter Esther Edquist’s angst, pains, and pursuit of self-knowledge. We were excited to delve into songwriter Esther’s record collection with the theme ‘records to grieve to’.

Writing by Molly Mckew

The new album from Melbourne’s Sweet Whirl, aka Esther Edquist, is the ultimate in sad-gurl music – intimate, relatable, and heartbreaking. Edquist’s dreamy, pop-tinged songwriting touches on themes of longing, melancholy, and self-knowledge and is utterly absorbing. Her lyrics are empathetic and vulnerable, yet there’s a strength in the way Edquist narrates her life; she’s direct, honest and knows herself. The first single ‘Something I do’ tells the story of a yearning but involuntary love. Edquist is a classic songwriter, revealing all yet leaving enough room for your own narrative – there has never been a more relatable lyric than “I’ll stay home at night, make believe I’m happy by myself.” In the spirit of sad-gurl music, Edquist chatted to Ramona mag about her top five albums to grieve to.

1. Leonard Cohen – “Songs From a Room”.

When I experienced the first death of a friend, I spent a few weeks listening only to this. I had it on vinyl and as soon as one side was done I’d flip it over, for hours. It’s very somber, too sexy and somber maybe. So you’re lured back to the world of the living, while still being extremely sad. Very good grieving music.

2. Mazzy Star – “So Tonight That I Might See“

When the next death of a friend coincided with a breakup of a long term relationship, I took up smoking and sat on my sofa and listened to Mazzy Star on repeat, on my computer. All albums, but this one’s a classic. I gave up smoking after a month.

3. Roy Montgomery – “Temple IV”

This is a superlative relaxant, when you can’t deal with lyrics and most music seems trite, and you feel like you can’t connect with the world’s pace. Often in that space where you need to accept change and let go of things, a really beautiful instrumental album will help you through.

4. Maria Callas -“La Divina”

My parents had this on CD when I was growing up, and she’s one of the few opera singers I enjoy listening to. This year when my mum’s dog was dying I sat in the kitchen and played her (the dog) Maria Callas singing all the great tragic arias and cried. Opera can be extremely cathartic, I only listen to it when I need it.

5. Neil Young – “Rust Never Sleeps”

At some point in the grieving process you have to put on “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” loudly and feel it jolt you back to life. Then you can go back to the start of the album and continue to bawl your eyes out or swim deeper into your own abject sorrow, whatever suits.

Watch Sweet Whirl’s video for Something I Do here:

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Molly Mckew

Molly Mckew is a writer and musician from Melbourne. In 2019 she completed a history PhD on the countercultures of the 1960s and 1970s in Melbourne and she has been published in Overland, The Conversation, and Archer magazines.

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