Snail Mail Ventures into the Profound with ‘Valentine’

Consistent themes of heart-break and queer love are all throughout the album, as Jordan boldly delivers an album about loving and losing women- as a woman. 

At 22 years of age, singer songwriter Lindsey Jordan has delivered a musical exploration of what it is to feel love and loss. Known better by her solo band name Snail Mail, with her second full length album titled Valentine, Jordan takes a road less traveled. Consistent themes of heart-break and queer love are all throughout the album, as Jordan boldly delivers an album about loving and losing women- as a woman. 

 

Jordan’s Inspirations

Jordan describes herself as a massive Sufjan Stevens fan, citing his ‘Carrie & Lowell’ album as the album that affects her emotionally the most. Moreover, she cites Lana Del Rey and Bob Dylan as artists she appreciates the lyricism of, and that have played important roles in her musical growth. 

 

From ‘Lush’ to ‘Valentine’ 

After releasing the critically acclaimed album ‘Lush’ in June of 2018, it was obvious that Jordan did not lack confidence even at 18 years of age. She bust through the indie rock scene with memorable riffs and emotional lyrics that talked about teenage love in a way that captured the attention of many. Now, having continuously matured, Jordan has returned three years later with an even more acclaimed album. Co-produced by Brad Cook, Jordan delivers enchanting vocals paired with heart-breaking lyrics, making this album just as emotional as it is enthralling to listen to. 

 

Exploring Valentine Track by Track

With 10 songs on the track-list, Valentine comes at an overall runtime of only 32 minutes. 

Jordan makes the most of this runtime though, starting with the title track ‘Valentine’. Through this song, Jordan delivers an emotional vocal performance in the chorus singing “So why’d you wanna erase me, darling Valentine?” Such lyrics clearly setting up a painful love-lost journey that the listener is about to embark on. 

The second track ‘Ben Franklin’ is a song sonically somewhat out of Jordan’s comfort zone. With rogue lyrics, Jordan also mentions her recent 45 day rehab in Arizona about which she talked to Pitchfork in a recent interview saying; “I was dealing with a unique set of circumstances and challenges rooted in being so young when I started. I needed to hit pause. I was not in any kind of shape to continue doing Snail Mail stuff. Luckily, I had people around me that love me, and the place that I went to had a lot of answers.” 

‘Headlock’ is the third track and by now it is clear to the listener that heartbreak has occurred. However the lyrics focus more on the singer’s upset state of being, and losing herself in a relationship more so than loss of a lover per se. The lyrics “Can’t go out, I’m tethered to” perfectly describe such a reliant state of being. 

Talking about the song ‘Light Blue’, Jordan says; “I wrote it for a girlfriend. It feels like I was young at the time—I was 19—and even though it wasn’t that long ago, in a way it was.” She continues by saying she wrote the song as a gesture but also a declaration. 

‘Forever (Sailing)’ samples the song ‘You and I’ by Madleen Keen. Having never sampled before, Jordan says she couldn’t stop thinking about the song and how much of a deep-cut it is, so she decided to involve it on her album somehow. 

Released as a single first, the song ‘Madonna’ is about putting someone on a pedestal, and not really being in love with that person, but an image of them. Religion also plays a role in the lyrics, given that Jordan grew up going to church on Sundays. She says she has a deep fear of being blasphemous, a feeling that has resided within her for a long time having grown up Catholic. 

‘C. et al.’ is a chorus-less song that describes feelings of missing someone while also mentioning the mundaneness of a certain routine. The name Mia comes up in the lyrics as well- more on that later though. 

‘Glory’ has similar themes to ‘Madonna’, in the sense that it is full of anger. The lyrics also describe Jordan going through a grieving process, all the while she’s coming to terms with the fact that she would do anything for her lover by singing ‘You own me’ on repeat. 

In the second to last song, ‘Automate’, Jordan sings about growing up through making mistakes and comprehending love as something real- and not just as a game. Ideal love for Jordan is unconditional, and with this song she tells us that it is not all about passion and fire. The lows in a relationship play just as important of a role, if not more, as the highs do. 

The album closes out with the aforementioned ‘Mia’ as the title of the track. It describes a devastating feeling of heart-break, more specifically waking up the day after the break-up and forgetting for just a split second what went down yesterday. The lyrics “And heaven’s not real, babe” make up the last chorus of the album, leaving the listener with palpable emotion at the end. 

 

The takeaway  

Jordan remarks that making this album has been the greatest challenge of her life so far, putting her heart and soul into every little detail. From the lyrics to every single note, true passion shines through this entire project. 

It is truly an emotional ride from beginning to end, giving great representation to the LGBTQ+ community. All the same perhaps the greatest achievement of this album is that sympathizing with Jordan’s emotion is not difficult at all. Even if you yourself have never experienced the specific heart-break scenarios she is singing about. Music to Jordan is personal and she certainly takes a dive into her feelings all through ten songs. You feel what she feels, the sadness, the longing, in almost tangible fashion. 

Critics have been rightfully raving about the album’s maturity, revelatory emotion, and unconventional climaxes. A masterpiece album such as this comes out only once every few years, meaning Snail Mail has delivered beyond even the highest of expectations. 

 

Picture: Matador Records


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