We Can Hear Each Other
Erin’s first solo album, We Can Hear Each Other, was produced by Doug Kwartler at Hollow Body Studios and released in May of 2021. It charted at #10 on the Folk Alliance International (FAI) Folk Chart in June 2021, with the single “Fireflies” debuting at #8 on FAI’s Folk Singles chart.
Produced by Doug Kwartler, Hollow Body Studios
Erin Ash Sullivan – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Ukulele
Doug Kwartler – Everything else
Emma Sullivan – Backing vocals on “Spring Come Running”
Tracks recorded at Hollow Body Studios and at Erin’s house (thanks to the Hollow Body-mobile) during the COVID-19 pandemic
Mixed and mastered by Doug Kwartler
More about the album
Erin’s first solo album, We Can Hear Each Other, features songs written mostly after she returned to songwriting in 2017. It was produced at Hollow Body Studios in Massachusetts by Doug Kwartler, whose arrangements feature a range of instruments from stand-up bass to a 150-year-old banjo. When the pandemic threatened to bring production to a halt, Doug got creative for the final few songs and turned his trusty Volvo into the “Hollow Body Mobile,” setting up a studio on Erin’s front porch while she recorded guitar, uke, and vocals from the physically-distanced safety of her living room.
Many of the songs from We Can Hear Each Other are deeply personal and capture key moments in Erin’s life as well as the experiences of family members and friends. Her lyrics touch on what it means to be an individual caught up in a web of connections as a daughter, wife, mother, and friend.
The album’s opening track, “Train from Gary,” is a series of questions to Erin’s grandmother, Dorothy Kell Foose, a singer and performer who was cast in the original Broadway production of Oklahoma, only to leave the show before it opened to marry Erin’s grandfather. Like many grandchildren, Erin realized as an adult how little she knew about her grandparents’ lives.
The next song, “Fabric,” is a spare, dreamy arrangement that reflects on the power of tangible objects—like a bolt of fabric—to elicit memory and emotion. The third track, “Spring Come Running,” is a lively, bluegrass-infused tune featuring Erin’s daughter, Emma, in close harmonies; it was written at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 and touches on the need for resilience in tough times.
“Take It From There” was written to honor a childhood friend who passed away tragically while doing her best to parent her two sons in challenging circumstances. It touches on feelings common to all parents: “The paths we carve from day to day/They bind us to ourselves and to no other/A map etched on our hearts that shows/The way to home is simply through each other.”
The ukulele takes center stage for the light-hearted “Fireflies,” which veers into old-time jazz territory, and is followed by “Wind Around You,” one of Erin’s earliest songs. “Sacred Thread” was inspired by a conversation with a close friend about how her father came to the United States from India and how faith and self-determination impact the decisions we make in our lives: “And as we’re writing out the story that we’d like to read instead/We’re spooling out a sacred thread.” It’s followed by the upbeat “Ducks in a Row,” Erin’s take on how hard it is to let go if you’re someone who likes to have everything under control: “It’s been a long hard lesson to go with the flow/And to give a little push to my ducks in a row.”
“One Man Show” is new arrangement of one of Erin’s earlier tunes—it appeared on the album Tattooed Queen, which Erin recorded with Amy Speace when the two performed together as Edith O. The second-to-last tune on the album, “Sheep Shanty,” was inspired by the true story of a cargo ship that went down in 2019 carrying 15,000 sheep.
The album takes its title from the lyrics of the final track, “Radio Show,” which incorporates found audio from 1980 of Erin and her sister, Amanda. The two spent endless childhood hours writing and recording radio shows on their TEAC tape deck, and the song celebrates both the joy of creativity and the deep happiness that comes from being known and heard by someone you love: “We don’t care that no one’s listening/We can hear other.”