This Thursday, August 25th, indie folk outfit Florist will be playing The Lounge at World Café Live, our favorite listening room in the city and a far cry from their last local stop, which had them playing gallery space PhilaMOCA in August of 2019. And, during a recent phone chat with the band – comprised of vocalist/guitarist Emily Sprague, bassist Rick Spataro, guitarist Jonnie Baker, and drummer Felix Walworth – they tell me it’s an even further cry from some of the Philadelphia shows they remember. “Philly has always been one of my favorite places to play. Our first-ever tour were straight up DIY basement shows and we had some really fun house shows,” says Emily, while the guys tell me about one particularly memorable show: “It was a Drexel house, party vibes, second show of the tour, hundreds of kids, four floors and a basement. We made like $200 and I could not believe it!”
However, Emily tells me that this setting is actually what they had hoped for: “We kind of put out that as a request, rooms that encourage a listening space… We like it when the room creates an intentional listening experience.” I chatted with the band last month, just prior to the release of their self-titled fourth LP, which dropped July 29th via Double Double Whammy, and which was already hailed by host and creator of NPR’s All Songs Considered and musical taste-maker extraordinaire Bob Boilen as, “The most beautiful music I’ve heard in 2022.”
Florist serves as a companion piece to Emily Alone, a sort of solo record Sprague wrote and recorded while holed up in Los Angeles, mourning the death of her mother all on her lonesome. After the realization that intense personal trauma is perhaps best dealt with surrounded by loved ones, she began working on the follow-up alongside her band in a rented house in the Hudson Valley, where they lived and worked together for a month straight, the first time they had recorded in such a way. “In some ways it was more collaborative. We were living together for a month and we wrote all together,” she tells me, going on to call it, “A bigger undertaking than anything we’ve done… A long, full mapped-out experience of what it’s like when we get together to play.” “It was self-recorded, and we were all trying out ideas. We were able to work around the clock… That element of being there all the time meant we got to kind of take turns and it wasn’t always the same people up and working on something,” the band adds.
This tour, which is about to wrap on August 26th in Kingston (followed by an Emily solo show the next night in Buffalo), apparently represents a first for the band, who have been touring for a decade now: “We’ve been touring as a band for about ten years, and we’ve never done an entire US tour that’s the full four-piece.” At the time we spoke, they tell me that they’re currently booking a European tour for the first time. They tell me that fans at World Café Live can expect to hear mostly songs from the new album, but when I ask them if they had any favorite responses to the album prior to its release, Emily tells me that they have had some good ones, but that they think it’s really important for fans to listen to the record as a whole: “We had an interview with a radio host in upstate New York and he described it as, ‘The definitive soundtrack to the Hudson Valley and the Catskills,’ which was really great, but the record is so much of an album that it needs to be listened to that way, so it will be fun to see what people think of it like that.”
*Get your tickets here.