Sylvan Esso (Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn)

The Holly Prize, 2018

Amelia Meath (SESAC) had written a song called “Play It Right” and sung it with her trio Mountain Man, after which she met Nick Sanborn (ASCAP), an electronic producer working under the name Made of Oak. She asked him to scramble the song, to render her work his way. He did the obligatory remix, but he sensed that there was something more important here than a one-time handoff: Of all the songs Sanborn had ever recast, this was the first time he felt he’d added to the raw material without subtracting from it, as though, across the unseen wires of online file exchange, he’d found his new collaborator without even looking. Sylvan Esso then became a band and a year later, their self-titled debut arrived. Sylvan Esso represents the fulfillment of their fortuitous encounter by, once again, linking parts that too often come stripped of their counterparts. Sylvan Esso’s sophomore album, What Now, is the sound of a band truly fulfilling the potential and promise of their   debut. Everything has evolved - the production is bolder, the vocals are more intense, the melodies are more infectious, and the songs shine that much brighter. What Now is an album of the finest songs this band has ever written- produced masterfully, sang fearlessly- to articulate our collective undercurrents of anxiety and joy.