Viking's Choice: Erin Tobey, 'I'm Young' : All Songs Considered Erin Tobey's blossoming music opens just at the moment of revelation. After more than a decade, the Bloomington singer-songwriter returns with a reflective second album.
NPR logo Viking's Choice: Erin Tobey, 'I'm Young'

Viking's Choice: Erin Tobey, 'I'm Young'

Erin Tobey. Chaz Mottinger/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Chaz Mottinger/Courtesy of the artist

Erin Tobey.

Chaz Mottinger/Courtesy of the artist

It's been more than a decade since Erin Tobey's last solo album, and if the name sounds somewhat familiar, she was part of the early- to mid-'00s Bloomington punk scene in bands like Abe Froman and Mt. Gigantic. Since then, Tobey has focused on illustration and design, and joined other bands, but revisiting 2005's self-titled LP provides a reminder that her solo material always blossomed at the singular moment of self-revelation. If "I'm Young" is any indication, then Tobey's second album, Middlemaze — recorded with brother Matt Tobey and husband Jeff Grant — follows in those footsteps, but is far richer and more reflective.

With age comes all of the stuff that also tells us we're wiser and perhaps a bit wistful about another time. "I'm Young" deals with life after youth, which could be any age, but for Tobey — who lived the punk life in her 20s — her 30s feel and sound different. As a bass languidly rattles and a guitar lounges around, the whole thing swings like a cosmic country song. Tobey's voice has developed considerably from youthful urgency to something measured and assured, reminiscent of Juliana Hatfield or Bill Callahan. She sings of that other time with such tenderness and understanding that, even in its quiet, it feels as if the song could burst:

My love is a deep, abiding love

It lives on the dance floor of the club

My love spans the

length and breadth of time

It lives until it dies

Middlemaze comes out June 3 on Let's Pretend.