Adapting to life after heartbreak. Calling on the old phantoms of your recent sorrow. Nostalgia we sometimes want to revisit, and sometimes we only write about. Brooklyn babe and Public Practice member Drew Citron released some of that anguish on October 9th, with her solo debut Free Now. Following the breakup of her first band, Beverly – and the end of her relationship with drummer Scott Rosenthal, whom Citron also opened Bushwick venue Alphaville with – she set out to write the album as a means of channeling her emotions on her own creative wave. “When you go through loss, there’s a really great growth period afterward, and you really ‘get free.’ That’s the theme of the album,” Citron explains. “It’s not a coincidence that this [change] coincides with my solo debut.”
For Citron, writing the album was a comfort covering an overflow of emotions. “I honestly was just trying to sing and play guitar in a way where I would soothe myself because I was so sad. And it worked. I started focusing on finishing the songs,” Citron says. “I’m lucky that I can play music and write as a form of catharsis.” This writing process became a kind of therapy, clearing the fog from her mind, as Citron explored sounds she could take solace in, rather than the nervy post-punk of Public Practice or the grungified surf rock of Beverly.
Her first single, “Summertime,” showcases an undisturbed mellowness; Citron explains that she focused on painting a picture with the instrumentals, rather than telling a specific story. “I was working on scaling things back and being very sparse with the arrangement and the production,” she says, adding that she wanted to “create a feeling with the sounds.” Subtle acoustic guitar on the title track lets Citron’s voice shine in a way it hasn’t been able to on her previous projects. Elsewhere, like on “Kiss Me,” Citron buries her sentiments in layers of dream pop fuzz. Citron leans into more pop-oriented sounds throughout, even incorporating country twang on album closer “Love’s the Illusion.” Free Now isn’t just about anecdotal liberation, but creative freedom, as well.
Citron stretched her creative muscles even further with her involvement in the video for latest single “Kiss Me,” choreographed by Citron’s friend Jen Freeman, who had been quarantining upstate with several dancers who ended up being perfect for the clip. “I wanted to do a sort of traditional duet dance number for a video, kind of an old-fashioned Ginger Rogers piece,” Citron explains. Videographer Joseph DiGiovanna spent hours editing “Kiss Me” until the two dancers, although never physically in the same frame, were in flawless harmony. The finished product balances tension and joy, a socially-distanced work of art. “It turned out very beautifully, and safe for the time that we’re in,” reflects Citron.
In addition to her many music industry projects, Citron spends time writing for other creative outlets. “I generally have a screenplay and a novel on the backburner at all times. They’re in my head as dream projects that I might one day tackle,” Citron admits. “I love crafting stories out of the written word.”
Until we can read that novel-in-the-making, Citron’s solo music ventures won’t stop with Free Now. “I definitely finished a second solo album in quarantine,” she says. “I’m putting finishing touches on that and can hopefully release that next year.” She’s also hopeful about touring with Pubic Practice, since the gigs around the release of the band’s debut LP Gentle Grip back in May were canceled due to COVID. Since the ongoing pandemic will also affect her promotion of Free Now, Citron has set her sights on hosting a ticketed streamed release party, to be announced soon.
Having not only written and performed the tracks, Citron also produced and engineered the album, taking true ownership of the material. Through all of the sentimentality revisited in Free Now, at its core the album is really about Citron stepping into her own identity as a solo performer and songwriter. As she explores new frontiers both creatively and personally, we see her breaking from the past and following her own freedom into a bright future.