Nighttime, “Keeper Is The Heart”
By Hayden Merrick · January 23, 2023 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP

Eva Louise Goodman has the air of someone who creates art for herself, a trite way of saying her music is not obviously linked to a scene or subgenre. Since 2014, the music she makes as Nighttime has delivered fluent, buoyant folk compositions that run the gamut of psych-pop, girl group, and Americana. Folding in a melange of disparate influences—from the Queen of Rockabilly to The Clean—Nighttime is united by its leader’s distinctive vocal, which could easily overpower the arrangements if not for Goodman’s impeccable control and close attention to dynamics.

For album three, Keeper is the Heart, Goodman onboarded Florist member Rick Spataro and developed one song per day in his upstate New York studio. Manipulating tape speeds and taking an improvisational approach, the pair then encouraged a coterie of trusted instrumentalists to color in the remaining gaps. The sense of peace created by this trust-your-instincts prompt is clear in every inflection, from the opening track’s sleepy saxophone murmurs to the dovetailing strings on the hushed waltz “Feeling the Weeks.” The overall result has the serendipitous beauty of a wildflower meadow.

Although enlivened by multiple voices, Keeper is the Heart is darker and more emotive than its predecessor, the stripped-back Turning Wheel EP, which hoped to accompany listeners “enjoying a picnic with laughter and friends” as the pandemic gave way to spring. Keeper again looks to the natural world, but as a means of contextualizing Goodman’s relationship with time’s arrow and with death. It’s a path walked by many greats before her, though Goodman’s journey is no less inspiring. “The span of a life is just the shimmer of a light/ Across the ocean of time/ Across the great divide/ Onto the other side,” she projects during the album’s climactic finale “Across the Ocean of Time” whose transcendent outro sounds apt to score one’s departure from the world.

Throughout Keeper is the Heart, there are delicate adjustments in meter, tempo, and instrumentation, almost without our realizing. Take the linear structure of “Spring, You Come Again”: the mournful, Scandinavian folk–esque introduction effortlessly transitions into a cheerful waltz. Similarly, “When the Wind is Blowing” forgoes its chorus for an interlude in which all semblance of structure dissipates, leaving a gust of amorphous calm to emulate the song’s title. There are plain-sailing cuts, too, though. The bright guitars and warbling organs of “Garden of Delight” and “The Way” call to mind the psychedelic-imbued pop of bands such as Tele Novella and La Luz.

Instead of leaning on a particular instrument or by-numbers songwriting method, Goodman trusts in the process and in her collaborators, and in doing so, has created an enchanting ode to, and source of, life and light ready to carry listeners through hardship and onto the other side.

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