The re-imagined EP, Goodnight, Lover (Stripped) – which officially drops tomorrow September 9th – was inspired by profound loss she experienced in 2018, when three important men in her life passed away.
The first was Matt, Sweetlove’s oldest friend. Diagnosed with schizophrenia in his twenties, Matt struggled with his mental health, and tragically died from untreated pneumonia on Christmas Day. “We grew up together––spent almost every day of the first 18 years of our lives together,” she says.
Later that year, she lost David. A long-time love and close family friend who had served as a medic in Iraq. David took his own life just before Thanksgiving Day in 2018. “He was this bright, wild, hilarious, beautiful light,” Sweetlove says.
Finally, at the end of 2018, her cousin Teddy lost a long battle with alcoholism. “We had Thai food on his hospital bed, and I sang him songs. I’m so glad I got to tell him I loved him in the end. I wish I had had that chance with Matt and David,” she says.
The avalanche of grief that she endured that fateful year would turn into this album as a way to cope, and turn her hurt into lasting art. When asked what writing these songs meant to her, she said, “Something just unraveled in me. And that’s what these songs came out of. The songwriting saved me.”
The opening track, “Devil On Your Shoulder,” strips away the sass of the original production and highlights the message of encouraging the listener to live life with less regret, as we only have one chance. She sings, “Cause when you do four out of five things right / Don’t let the fifth be the one that keeps you up at night.”
The title track, “Goodnight, Lover,” offers a lullaby-like sweetness. Her voice soothes the listener, while painting this relationship between a couple who is deeply in love. It’s a beautiful ode between lovers whose souls are intertwined.
The next song, “The House,” is subdued in the original recording, but the stripped version offers a more lonely if not eerie sensibility. It showcases Sweetlove’s vocals front and center, and the echo of the single strums on guitar. The drawn out line, “Sometimes the house wins,” highlights the emotion in her voice.
“Did You Even Know” is a resonating piano ballad that shows us more of what she was going through during this time. Feeling remorse and regret for all those “last times” she did not think would be last times. She wishes for one more night with the person she loves. Notable lyrics include, “When your days are numbered you count them slower / And who would have guessed we were down to one.”
“Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead” is a song one could envision as a person wishing someone the best after they have passed on. It’s a conversational song about getting used to someone not being around. She sings, “To wherever you have fled / And I hope you find your way / Before the devil knows you’re dead.” The title comes from an Irish saying, “And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead,” which is a blessing to someone. May your life be one the devil is not concerned with.
The closer, “Things I Didn’t Say,” wraps the ultra-tender album up with a bow. Sweetlove is able to take all the pain and guilt she has been feeling through the past songs, and come to terms with it all. “How could you not see it / How much I loved you / But all you remember is how to forget me.” She talks about pushing it down, but not feeling ready to be open. The song has a slow, upbeat melody while still being soft and introspective.
Sweetlove has found her own refuge in songwriting after years of helping others showcase theirs. She sang backup vocals for Grammy-nominated and Tony award-winning artists, paying dues on big stages. The daughter of a preacher and a teacher, she grew up in California’s Simi Valley and experienced music as a natural part of life– not as a pursuit or a practice, but an extension of just being.
Now, after living in West Hollywood for the last 15 years, Sweetlove has drawn from her time sharing stages with superstars, and has since created something that is entirely, beautifully hers.
Goodbye, Lover (Stripped) is a collection of songs that meets you where you are when dealing with grief. It’s also a gentle reminder that no one is truly alone.