Now is All is the second solo album from Swimmers Jackson.
Starting as a trio called Swimmers, the album is the follow up to 2020’s Murmuration, which in turn follows the releases of EPs Swimmer’s Year and This Burning Circus in 2013 and 2015 respectively under the old moniker. Jackson still works sporadically with Dublin grunge revivalists Bouts and London-based post-punk outfit Sweat Threat.
Dublin-born and London-based Jackson penned the material for Now Is All during lockdown, committing them to tape over Christmas 2021 and St Patrick’s Day 2022 in Limerick. The writing process was centred around documenting the feeling of the times, the resulting songs expressing anxieties around identity, the future, societal progress and ageing.
Much like its predecessor, Now is All is a charming record, offering a snapshot of the perspective of someone consciously approaching their middle age at a time when the world has seemingly come to a standstill.
Lyrically, the songs are relatable, whether written about the difficulty and, at times, futility in cleaning one’s act up on ‘Borrow Sorrow’ (“But it’s the first of October/ And I’m doin’ my best to stay sober/ ‘Til it’s over/ But it’s getting colder/ And I’m getting older/ Give me a shoulder”) or pondering life’s unanswerables on ‘Stripped Away’ (“Can you make it better?/ No, we can’t control the weather/ But we’ve weathered storms/ Now it seems to be changing form.”)
Sonically, the album is less lo-fi than its predecessor but that is not to say it’s ornate. The tracks have a warm, familiar feeling to them, with Jackson opting for straightforward, traditional indie rock instrumentation.
While largely acoustic guitar-based, especially through the album’s mid-section (‘Kick ‘Em Hard’, ‘Stripped Away’, ‘Red Red Evening Sun), some tracks pack enough punch and electric guitar crunch to maintain the listener’s attention (‘Borrow Sorrow’, the latter, half-tempo portion of ‘Protest Contest’).
It’s not all doom and gloom, despite the contemplative subject matter. ‘Catapult’ opens with bright, major-key guitars soaked in a chorus effect, while the title track calls to mind ‘90s Californian pop punk and power pop.
All in all, the album strikes a nice balance between relaxed and energetic while maintaining an earnest approach to lyricism.