On Record – SRSQ: Ever Crashing (Dais)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

This is the second album from singer-songwriter Kennedy Ashlyn, who goes by the artistic name of SRSQ (pronounced ‘seer-skew’).

It was three years in the making, though when you get a hint of Ashlyn’s story the importance of this record falls into place. Her debut album, after all, was a response to the tragic death of her one time bandmate Cath Askew in Oakland – and Ever Crashing was an expression at the news of her diagnosis with ADHD and bipolar disorder. Music became a necessity, the primary means of expression.

The Ever Crashing title is pertinent, to quote from the press release documenting ‘Ashlyn’s recurring sensation of being trapped in the crest of a wave, turned and churned in the surf, mirroring the cycles of self-flagellation and surrender that she battles being bipolar’.

What’s the music like?

Even without the backstory in mind, Ever Crashing is a powerful experience. Ashlyn’s voice is the primary reason for this, a most impressive instrument capable of holding its own above a wall of guitars but never straining, always relatable, and always clear in its lyrical delivery (an underrated quality!)

It Always Rains gives us a slow and powerful beginning, showing off influences that run from Cocteau Twins and All About Eve to The Cure and School of Seven Bells perhaps – all names speculation because the music fits in next to theirs. Yet the result is that SRSQ does have a distinct identity, Ashlyn’s compelling presence piercing the clouds.

Saved For Summer throws open the windows with a rush of guitars, as does the standout Dead Loss, a really strong pop song with a winning hook. The title track packs a punch, too, as does Élan Vital, which finds the singer noting how ‘winter twists and turns, when the days are cold and sparse’. Later on she asks, “What is it about the cold that makes me sad?”

The closing Someday I Will Bask In The Sun offers a way out. “In my own time I will christen this prison of my own design, I am risen, forgiven,” sings Ashlyn over a fidgety breakbeat.

Does it all work?

Much of it does, especially vocally. The tracks do tend to be quite long, which on the plus side means they have plenty of time to establish the mood but also that they can overrun.

Is it recommended?

It is. There is much to commend this record, its stand against adversity, and its musical assertiveness in the face of the storm. As a listener you will emerge suitably inspired.