RENEE MASKIN'S DEBUT SOLO ALBUM - SWIMMING - IS A WORK OF ART

Review by Rosi Lamela

January 31, 2022

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Photo Credit: Kenny Bieber

Renee Maskin recently released her debut solo album, Swimming, which has been garnering much praise and rightfully so!  Swimming is an album that captures a mood that is easily relatable when considering what we all collectively experienced as a society. Its super mellow sound can almost become background music till you hear Maskin’s voice telling you to stop and listen. Even though “We Won’t Lose It Now” originally presents itself as an upbeat song, the lyrics follow the trajectory of a very somber album making its way through the noise, one track at a time. Swimming most probably was inspired by the pandemic, but it holds its value beyond that. It’s very personal and familiar. It reminds me of how much in the most recent years have been a time of reflection for many of us. Tragedy in itself holds the mirror to our existence.

Listen!

Save Me From This Place” follows you down to a slightly darker mood with it’s "drony" progression and hint of distortion in the background. There are some parts of this song that are diary-like. Without trying to figure out the song simply by its title, I got the sense that the lyrics captured the emotion of this songwriter, evaluating their life. It might sound sad, but when you get to this song there is a sense of positivity. Maybe it’s the beginning of something good coming out of a dark time.


Summerfield” is the third track and I did read the backstory to this song. Given that fact, I did enjoy the story more as it was being told over a few muted strings in poetic form. I have to mention my fascination with musicians that record in their apartments capturing their living environment along with their instruments. I think it is probably what makes this album even more personal.


Hot Moon'' is where you can really hear Maskin’s voice come out in the album though followed at parts with a melodic guitar. The feedback screeching throughout some of the chords compliments it nicely. I love that the album’s mood changes halfway through. It starts to feel like there is a breakthrough from misery or self evaluation.


Wind of Knives” gives homage to the ocean at the beginning of the song. If you know anything about Renee Maskin you know she is a very well known artist in the Asbury Park scene. Of course the ocean can be reference to any ocean, but the Jersey shore definitely is part of this story. I was taken back by the almost flamenco sounding guitar progression in the background. At one point there is a faint guitar sound that kind of sounds like seagulls. Am I hearing things?

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Photo Credit: Kenny Bieber

Of Your Dreams” starts off "trancy" and then the acoustic guitar comes in. I love the random keyboard that abruptly makes its debut. This song had me really feeling connected when I heard the lyric “I’m losing signal the farther this night goes.” “Rain and Stone” then follows as a brief instrumental that brings you to the end of the album.


The last song which is one of my favorites is “Bolt.” Sometimes the last song of the album is a true end to something you dedicated your time to listening to. “Bolt” feels like a continuation to hopefully another album. The song tells you to “Hang on” which is something that seems to be a theme reminding you that this is not a sad album if you dig deeper.


Swimming is very passionate, soft and raw. It’s an impressive first solo album from an artist I formally heard as the singer of the band LowLight. I really do think this album gets its personal touch from how it was created, “in a studio apartment, watching the rain pouring down.” You feel that in every lyric, chord and note. Sometimes when life gets rough and confusing, works of art come through. This album is an example of that.

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Photo Credit: Diane DiMemmo

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Rosi Lamela ~ "I am a proud music nerd and Jersey native. I have been a photographer for over 7 years and when I merged my two passions, it fit like a glove. My taste in music keeps on changing as I show up to live shows throughout the tri state area. I love writing about my adventures and getting into geeky convos about music. When I am not out with my camera at a show I am producing education videos for distance learning at my full time gig. Do not be mistaken by my Spotify account and lack of record collection, I am well informed on a lot of great music. I will see you out there trudging through the crowds of music pedestrians. Don’t get too annoyed if I sneak up in front of you to get a good shot. I promise I will be polite."

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