Nicole Schneit has been chameleonic in her approach to Air Waves since starting the project almost a decade ago. Her past two albums, 2010’s Dungeon Dots and 2015’s Parting Glances, had one foot firmly rooted in folk-rock traditionalism, but they were also prone to stylistic discursions, the mark of a creatively curious mind. Her third full-length, Warrior, sounds more varied and ambitious than ever.
Lead single “Morro Bay” takes narrative inspiration from Paul Simon’s Graceland and, while there’s some intercontinental sway in that dreamy backdrop, it’s more syrupy serene. There’s a sense of escape to the song, of curling up and fantasizing about a simpler life that amounts to nothing more than listening to music while the waves lap at the shore outside. As an introduction to Warrior, it’s a respite from the album’s more politically-charged songs, but it serves as an important document of how even carving out a small space for yourself in a world that can be opposed to your very existence is, in itself, an act of harnessing power. And “Morro Bay” certainly feels like a comfort, hypnotic and transportive: “You can find us in a room, listening to Graceland tunes/ You can find us in a room, listening to our favorite tunes.”
Schneit gives some context for the song:
Morro Bay is about the town Morro Bay in California. The town’s most striking feature is Morro Rock, a volcanic plug which stands at the entrance to the harbor. I had taken a road trip along the coast of California and this town stood out the most to me. I would play on beaches at Coney Island, or the Rockaways, which have beauty in their own right, but when I see some of the Oceans on the West Coast I’m mesmerized. My partner and I were listening to Graceland by Paul Simon, and visiting some historic mansions over there. The song is a dreamy homage to Morro Bay, pretending that was my home and life, with Graceland playing in the background.
02 “Morro Bay”
04 “Gay Bets”
07 “Hold On Hope”
11 “Blue Fire”