Track-by-Track: The Intimate Upheaval of in earnest’s Self-Titled Debut EP

in earnest © 2020
in earnest © 2020
A moving record at the crossroads of indie rock and folk, in earnest’s self-titled debut EP is a raw and radiant triumph of inner emotions worn on one’s sleeve.
for fans of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Daughter, Henry Jamison
Stream: “29” – in earnest

It was just one month ago that Atwood Magazine came away from UK trio in earnest’s third single “breathless and shaken.” The Southend-on-Sea alternative band spellbound with the poignant reverie of “29,” which turns out to have been the perfect setup for their first collection. A moving record at the crossroads of indie rock and folk, in earnest’s self-titled debut EP in earnest is a raw and radiant triumph of inner emotions worn on one’s sleeve.

'in earnest' EP - in earnest
‘in earnest’ EP – in earnest
It’s been five years you know
Takes a day to find all the photos
Happiness won’t grow
But fondness would, you’d think so
We share the same tone now
We share the same home now
Surrounded by the snow
Can I share your name now?
Why are we waiting?
Why can I still take a breath?
Why are we waiting?
Shall we put all the fables to bed?
– “fables,’ in earnest

Independently released October 7, 2020, in earnest is a six-song introduction full of depth, nuance, and stirringly intimate upheaval. It’s an impressive first full look at in earnest, the trio of couple Sarah Holburn and Thomas Eatherton and Toby Shaer. Formed in 2019, the band cite a shared goal of creating “meaningful art and unflinchingly honest lyricism.” Donning a subtle, subdued “Phoebe Bridgers-meets-Daughter-cum-Noah Gundersen” vibe, the UK trio have emerged with a special kind of sonic and lyrical prowess: One that requires time and attention from its listeners, with a powerful payoff for those who take a chance on this new band.

in earnest © 2020
in earnest © 2020

Produced and mixed by Peter Waterman of Longcroft Recording (Uriah Heep, Hattie Briggs), in earnest’s music is unapologetically intimate and honest: Their music’s themes range from reflections on being and nostalgia, to reconciling mental illness, to balancing hopelessness and hope, and more.

“We want listeners to connect, to feel something – our aim is to encourage discussion around difficult topics like mental illness,” in earnest share. “By sharing our experiences we hope to provoke thought and inspire others to start conversations as a result of our music.”

Songs like the wistful “29” and heavily aching “fables” showcase in earnest’s ability to build a world that is at once atmospheric and ethereal, but grounded in humanity. The latter is an especially powerful highlight off the EP, inhabiting a space that is at once full of tranquility and turbulence. “The truth is best served cold,” Holburn sings against an impenetrably bright, yet nevertheless formidable sonic darkness. “Less awkward if I’m singing. I know you want to float, but soon we’ll be grave digging…

in earnest © 2020
in earnest © 2020

What’s perhaps most wonderful about in earnest is that it has a little something for everyone: Fast songs and slow ones, those drizzled in heavy ambience and those breathing with a little more light. Sprinkled throughout all of their tracks is a level of deep introspection; each song is its own unique treasure trove of thoughtful observations and vulnerable emotions. The contrast between the feverish “in between” and the acoustic, lo-fi “the house” demonstrates the band’s versatility, as well as their ownership of empty space.

Throwing roses on a backlit porch
Don’t you tell me that I’m done
Romantic divorce
Who will come and strip the fight from me?
Who said that my race is run already?
Everybody else just looks like rain
Weathered all the same
The only thing that makes us different
Is that I will plead insane
It’s the black that’s blinding
It’s the light unseen
This will be the death of me
And all that’s in between
Gimme some more of that
Sweet, sweet dose through the speaker
I’m a junkie, you’re my vice
Pleased to meet ya
Someone told that I will live regret
I’ve made my bed, so I’ll lay in it
I’ve made my bed, so I lay down
– “in between,’ in earnest

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside in earnest’s in earnest EP with Atwood Magazine as Sarah Holburn and Thomas Eatherton go track-by-track through the music and lyrics of the band’s debut EP!

Stream: ‘in earnest’ EP – in earnest

:: Inside in earnest ::

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Tom: This song was the result of a songwriting experiment that I set for myself, close to my 29th birthday. I had a few lines which I’d written a while back and I decided to try to write a song that consisted almost completely of personal childhood memories. I mention the impact of first hearing the music of Linkin Park, breaking my wrist by jumping off of a kid’s play car, the first time I ever drank alcohol and a whole bunch of other adventures from my past. The song was intended to be an ode to remaining youthful in the mind, inquisitive and refusing to let adulthood become this boring, repetitive thing.

‘Put Me Under’

Sarah: ‘Put Me Under’ was written during a depressive state, about what my brain tends to do when I’m lonely (which includes Googling my symptoms, doing an online shop, and then worrying that my calendar is too busy to cope with my anxiety). It’s a constant reminder to myself that it’s very easy to jump onto the ‘carousel’ of negative thoughts, but also a comfort that I’ll never truly be lonely in the company of a dog.

‘Come Upstairs’

Tom: I really pushed myself with writing this song, as I decided early on that I wanted to write something that reflected the feelings of depression and anxiety. Those difficult feelings are often random, free-flowing and uninhibited – therefore, the song has no repeating lyrics, is quite lyrically intense and changes time and key signature at the very end, to signify a wave of depression petering out. Lyrically, the song is about living with and caring for Sarah, who experiences chronic depression and anxiety on a regular basis and the point that I was trying to make is that we COULD give in at any point to our struggles, but with those who love you around, we can learn from these experiences and get through it together.


Sarah: I wrote this song out of frustration with myself. In my head, I strive to do so much that it is often a disappointment once I realise I can’t physically or mentally achieve it. I also wanted it to be a shout to those around me that we only have one short life, and before we know it, we’ll be digging our graves. The end of the song is an all-encompassing feeling of worthlessness that totally overwhelms me on a daily basis (hence the chaotic crescendo!)

‘In Between’

Tom: ‘In Between’ is quite simply a love letter to music I have been playing and writing music for around 17 years, with no sign of the passion for it dying whatsoever. It also touches upon the need to have perseverance as an artist, in order to keep on pushing yourself to create better art that has more purpose (one of the key points that we really focus on when writing our songs). Some fun facts on this one is that we recorded this one totally live (with a few overdubs), we experimented with a vocoder vocal and that this song is one of our favourites to play live!

‘The House’

Tom: I hardly ever write collaboratively, but I wrote ‘The House’ with my good friend Chris Asher. We didn’t really decide on a topic or theme beforehand, but we ended up writing a song about gratitude – about having someone or something that can pull you out of any challenging situation. We both have a love for post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies and games, so I think some of that influence crept into writing this one. I very often picture a run-down house in the middle of nowhere as the setting for this song. My favourite thing about it is the ending, which features vocals from the three of us, but also from Chris and our producer, Pete. It really screams ‘togetherness’.

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