Album Review: Sally Seltmann – Early Moon

[Arts & Crafts; 2022]

Though she may not be the most recognizable name in the indie world, Sally Seltmann has more than left her mark on the music scene. First gaining critical acclaim under the moniker New Buffalo in the 2000s, she went on to co-write Feist’s global hit “1234” in 2007. Though she’s remained busy in recent years – publishing her first novel and writing the score for hit show The Letdown with her husband Darren Seltmann (formerly of The Avalanches) – Early Moon is her first solo LP in nearly a decade. 

Recorded during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Early Moon is an album focused on finding beauty in the everyday – waking up and smelling the roses is described as akin to being “always on holiday” on closer “Fill My Senses”. Though there are very real stakes at the album’s heart – a broken friendship is the central focus of opener “Please Louise”, a relationship on the rocks is given voice across multiple tracks and country-pop highlight “Real Born Tragic” even alludes to suicide – Early Moon is never particularly emotional intense. What it is, instead, is a warm and soothing, little pop album designed to inspire quiet reflection.

“Don’t Look Back” captures all the very best elements of Seltmann’s songwriting craft – capturing the ecstasy of young love, the bittersweet nature of memories and the idea of youth as a mere state of mind. Evoking Regina Spektor and Anais Mitchell in equal measure, it’s underpinned by a charming, unabashed earnestness. Elsewhere, Seltmann stretches the boundaries of the album’s musicality – with wurlitzers, synths and even a xylophone swirling and swelling on the intoxicating “Table For One”. 

Like any album primarily focused on the everyday, Early Moon doesn’t always demand close attention. Some moments necessarily fade into the background (“Female Pied Piper”, “Lovers Lie”), while others captivate across their entirety of their run. Even when the music blurs into an amiable blur, however, Seltmann’s sincerity and dedication to her craft remain undeniable. The end result is an album bursting with light, love and hard-earned wisdom.