When I sat down with Frances Quinlan earlier this summer, we ended up chatting for nearly an hour about politics, feminism, men, and music. The singer’s charm lies in her authentic candor. She’s unabashedly unfiltered and showcases this characteristic through her lyric-heavy songs. As the songwriter and frontwoman of indie rock band Hop Along, Quinlan never seemed to worry about disguising her emotions or point of view. Though Hop Along started as a solo project, it slowly evolved into Quinlan and a band. While the iterations of Hop Along over the years have varied, Quinlan has always been the constant. Now, Quinlan is returning to her roots with a full-blown solo album slated for release on January 31, 2020.
Going from a solo project to an ever-growing band was not an easy road for Quinlan. “It took a long time to translate the solo records into a band,” she admits. Quinlan started making music about 11 years ago with her older brother Mark and bassist Dom Angelella who is currently playing bass with Lucy Dacus. “We started as a three-piece group and there were growing pains for sure. It takes a long time to learn how to communicate in a way that’s healthy for the whole group because you don’t want to stifle people.”
On Quinlan’s newly released debut solo single, “Rare Thing,” it feels as though she has tapped into her most honest writing yet; completely unstifled and raw. “Rare Thing” begins with crisp vocals from Quinlan releasing the words: My love, in the dream, you were already speaking. With the push and pull of emotions throughout the song, it is clear that Quinlan is grappling with the idea that a larger, more generous love is possible to explore.
It is definitely a change of pace to hear Quinlan crooning about her infant niece rather than the 2016 presidential election, but it feels like a breath of fresh air. Hop Along’s last album Bark Your Head Off, Dog, was released in 2018 as a reaction to America’s political climate. “I’m gonna be honest, I am not the most informed person. I put the news on in the morning, but we’re in an age where you don’t even have to be an informed person to just be receiving information involuntarily all the time,” Quinlan said earlier this year. “I was feeling a lot of frustration as I was realizing how much of my own power I was handing over for a lot of my life without even recognizing it,” the singer added on her band’s 2018 album.
With Likewise, an upcoming nine-track solo album under her own name slated for a 2020 release, a fresh sound, and clear perspective, Quinlan has secured her power and shows no signs of letting it go.