“When the walls come down / There’s no hammer and nail / Can fix the dream that holds this child,” sing The Sweet Water Warblers on “Something More,” the track that inspired the title of their debut album The Dream That Holds the Child.
“In our political climate, we’re so focused on putting walls up and boundaries that we’re hiding behind or trying to keep someone out,” explains Lindsay Lou, who writes and sings the Michigan folk trio’s music, along with May Erlewine and Rachael Davis. The lyric, and the rest of the album, are about “being open and sitting with the vision that you have, the dream that you have,” she explains, “and it’s more than just a hammer and nail — it’s a prolonged re-owning of the narrative.”
The gospel-inspired, harmony-driven, soothing ten song collection deals in particular with elevating women. “Right With Me” provides a counter to the message women frequently receive that something’s wrong with them. In “Righteous Road,” the three women sing about continuing their mothers’ legacy by fighting for gender equality and improving the world for the next generation of women and men. “It’s just this journey of womanhood and not feeling less but finding one’s power within it,” says Lou.
The group itself was founded on this principle of women supporting one another. Lou, Erlewine, and Davis met at Michigan’s Hoxeyville Music Festival in 2014, where they were all playing individually until a promoter requested that they perform as a trio. Their voices blended so well together, they decided to form a band, releasing their first LP With You in 2017. “A big part of connecting with the feminine is also connecting with other women,” says Lou. “There’s this feeling that there’s only room enough for one token woman in a band, and women are uplifting women now.”
Their music aims to elevate not just women but “the divine feminine within all of us,” says Erlewine. The first single off the album, “Turn to Stone,” for instance, is a celebration of compassion, with lyrics like “May we hear each other singing/And may we never turn to stone.”
To Lou, the first step to reclaiming the divine feminine is “recognizing the imbalances, which comes with a certain degree of grief and anger and frustration,” she explains. The next step is “moving from that into a place where you appreciate all of the strength of the feminine, being connected to our body and our sexuality in a way that’s not attached to shame, and feeling connected to the mother — the mother that grows us in our bellies and also this great mother Earth that connects us all.”
Another important aspect of gender equality is having language and symbols that represent the divine feminine, says Lou. “There’s just a different consciousness from balancing out the symbology,” she says. That’s one thing The Sweet Water Warblers aim to provide with their music, says Davis. “Although there is a struggle continuing, we’re grateful that we get to address it the way that we do.”
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