Amy O – Mirror, Reflect (Tape)


On Mirror, Reflect, Amy O returns to form as she documents her transition into motherhood in the early days of the pandemic. Initially conceived as a lo-fi endeavor to record songs made with friends in those days of uncertainty, Mirror, Reflect is an intimate and exploratory work that weaves collected home and field recordings with shimmering synths and Oelsner’s playful lyricism.

A stalwart presence in the indie underground since 2012, Oelsner shifted her approach to record making on Mirror, Reflect to emphasize process over product, with the resulting songs born out of a myriad of home sessions, song-a-day projects, songwriting workshops and online collaborations. This kind of patchwork, home-spun approach was familiar to Oelsner, who made her name with her sparkling, homemade pop songs before releasing three studio albums, including her most recent album, 2019’s Shell.

Mirror, Reflect gently shrugs off the sheen of those studio albums, as an early prenatal recording of Oelsner’s daughter’s heartbeat opens the record in the near-ambient instrumental prelude of “Honey”- a wonderfully nuanced dispatch from the dog days of summer that’s under-bellied by both the precarity and beauty of the early months of infancy and new motherhood. Oelsner’s knack for finding magic in the mundane is also deeply apparent on “Dribble Dribble,” where the stick-with-you nature of the playful rhyme schemes of the children’s books that became a regular part of her literary intake are worked into a lilting reflection on resilience, destruction and loss.

Oelsner’s initiation into motherhood is inseparable from the poetic heart of Mirror, Reflect, but the album is also largely informed by the shifts in Oelsner’s relationship to herself. In “Reveal,” a track that first took shape during Oelsner’s pregnancy, she describes a time where she felt “uncomfortably perched in the middle of my “old new old new self.’” Through playful and emotionally acute observations, Amy O turns the potentially contractive experiences of motherhood, isolation, family and aging into a freewheeling work where ephemerality and humor collide over her deft lyrical phrasing, musicality and her keen observations turned poetic revelations.