Jan 24, 2023
By Caleb Campbell
Oropendola is the new project from Brooklyn singer/songwriter Joanna Schubert, who is perhaps best known for her time as a touring member with Half Waif and Barrie. However, this year Schubert is set to prove herself as a talented singer/songwriter in her own right with her forthcoming debut LP, Waiting For The Sky To Speak, out March 17th via Spirit House and Wilbur & Moore Records.
The project began in the isolation of the COVID lockdown and its vibrant energy was born as a result of Schubert bristling against that forced stillness. Belying its downcast origins, Waiting For The Sky To Speak sounds expansive and colorful, combining kaleidoscopic chamber pop arrangements with decadent balladry and an irresistible earnestness. Schubert teased the album last year with her singles “Stillness” and “Little Alien,” and today she’s back with another new single, “Knocking Down Flowers,” premiering with Under the Radar.
“Knocking Down Flowers” is among Oropendola’s more subtle efforts, with Schubert’s lilting vocals floating above hypnotic rhythms and hazy swirls of melody. She conjures an immersive dreamy allure, inviting you to lose yourself amidst the swelling strings and twinkling keys. It’s an inviting fantasy, but an ephemeral one, with the instrumentation mirroring an overwhelming sense of yearning laced throughout the lyrics. The song follows as a pair of lovers try desperately to bury their doubts and make a life together on an empty construction site: “Dancing on dying grass / To the steady sounds of the highway / Swaying left and right, out of time / On an empty construction site.”
Schubert describes the song’s origins, saying:
“In January 2020, I started recording myself improvising every morning – ‘morning pages’ inspired by The Artist’s Way, a creative self-help book. I recorded morning pages #1 soon after a pivotal, complicated, on-and-off relationship reached its end. Round and round we went, addicted to one another, unable to break free of a sticky cycle that prevented us from fully blooming together. That song seed turned into Knocking Down Flowers within a few days.
There was a construction site near my old apartment in South Slope, Brooklyn that the two of us would often pass by. We developed a bit – bittersweet in retrospect – that it was our home. We would peer through the diamond-shaped opening at the stunted barren landscape beyond and imagine the possibilities. Dirt, trash, patches of weeds, colorful graffiti on the green walls, the droning hum of the Prospect Expressway: our weird little insular paradise. One evening, the site’s door was slightly ajar. We made it inside of our home, for the first and only time, photographing one another, running around and dancing with abandon, beers in hands reaching towards the sky.
There is a certain type of pleasure, and comfort, gleaned from inhabiting liminal space. Suspended in midair, everything takes on a bit of a hazy, yet tantalizing, glow. You are just of this moment, no obligation to the past or future. Not quite here, not quite there, you don’t have to choose. If you don’t have to choose, you don’t have to make the wrong choice. If you knock down the flowers before they bloom, you don’t have to watch them wilt.”
Check out the song and video below, out everywhere now. Waiting For The Sky To Speak is out March 17th via Spirit House and Wilbur & Moore Records.