While many albums were written and recorded in the creative boom that quarantine jump-started, few of them were meant to capture the essence of that era.
This is what New Jersey songwriter Erika Sherger set out to accomplish with her debut EP, Like Birds, meant to “represent that time period” which was “very intense and passionate.”
Sonically, the album reflects those emotions. With thick, homespun vocals and an audible sass to match Lady Gaga’s character Ally in A Star is Born, the 8-track EP displays her maturity earned from nearly three decades of writing and performing music. Despite this history, Sherger didn’t start sharing her songs until about three years ago when she ventured into the open mic scene. She was part of forming the band Blue Druzy in 2020, who are currently working on an album of their own.
“Old White Light” begins the collection with a crash of lightning, then continues to ease the listener in with a guitar gradually joined by strings and drums. The near-tribal cadence contributes to the despair and zeal Sherger expresses, her ability to convey emotion showing itself early on talent.
Next up is “Down the Tracks”, with a slow, sleepy opening, as if the song is set in a small farm town that has just begun waking up. Early in the song, she pleads with her subject, “Is this true love? Please don’t change my life,” but by the end, she surrenders to his luring: “Boy you saved me, boy you changed my life tonight.”
A number of the songs revolve around this relationship, which she said was new at the time. “Exactly How I Feel” is about exactly what the title might suggest, an admission that she can no longer deny her feelings and trading those intimate, vulnerable realizations with each other. “I’ve gotten passive ‘bout admitting my feelings,” she concedes, but “there’s no time to waste.”
Another song whose title accurately represents the contents is “Fever Song,” which, despite insisting that all is “fine” and “alright” quite a bit throughout, is actually about her boyfriend (and bassist), who got Covid while at her house last April. It could be compared to the slight chaos and constant change one experiences while having a fever-imposed dream. The fast-paced percussion—including a brightly tinging triangle—encourages the pace of the rest of the song.
The culmination of the drama throughout the EP resolves in the final and title track, “Like Birds.” Chirping birds greet the listener at the beginning of the song, and the rest of the instrumentation creeps up like a cat in the jungle, purposeful and calculating in its movements. “So was I drawn to you, though I didn’t mean to,” Sherger wonders amid the gently echoing bass and a silvery signal-like noise that bounces back and forth in the soundscape of the song.
It is clear that Sherger avoids conforming to the current industry trend of progressively shorter and shorter songs in favor of demonstrating her senior craftsmanship and refusing to leave anything out because of the importance that each section plays a role in her music.
Sherger is a reminder that it is never too late to pursue your passions and share your art with the world.