Palomino is the fifth album from First Aid Kit, and once again sisters Klara and Johanna have given us an album that is warm, lovely, intimate, hopeful, and sad all at the same time. What instantly stands out when listening to Palomino is a conscious decision to take the listeners down the road of perfect pop music as it comes out of the blocks with such swagger and confidence with Out of My Head. The previous album Ruins was very much a heartbreak album, Klara was going through a difficult break up at the time and those emotions are captured within that album. With Palomino we have an album that when you listen intently to the lyrics there are some very sad moments, but overall, this is a much more uplifting and optimistic record. There are many shared emotions within the album, writing and recording Palomino during the pandemic in their home country of Sweden appears to have given Klara and Johanna time to reflect on what they have been through and in doing so have given us an album that we will all be able to relate to.
Themes of self-acceptance and moving forward in life are dominant throughout Palomino. The lead single Angel is such an honest song about accepting who we are and not letting fear hold us back. I have always loved how honest First Aid Kit are in their song writing and it doesn’t get much more honest than "I've been afraid all of my life / Crippled with anxiety, shame and doubt / And sometimes, sometimes I'd like to shout / At the top of my lungs and just let it out". This is a feeling that so many of us will be able to relate to and will not doubt be a favourite on the live tour especially when the song highlights the importance of being able to love ourselves “Give me love and give me compassion / Self-forgiveness and give me some passion / I love you even if you don't love me.”
Ready to Run gives us another helping of beautiful, timeless pop music. The harmonies are delightful, the melodies are comforting, and the lyrics are full of reflection. Turning Onto You contains one of my favourite lyrics of the year “The night holds promises that the morning can’t quite fulfil”. Fallen Snow, a funky and groovy song that you will see you tapping your foot, nodding your head and basically falling under the spell of this intriguing song which has taken influence from The Doors, “I’m going to love you till the moon don’t shine, I’m going to love you till the waters run dry”.
Wild Horses II is an acoustic led song that is the centre piece of the album. This song seems to capture life, the directions we take, the choices we make, everyday emotions, relationships, and those small moments that we all witness and experience but fail to capture or truly appreciate. I love the image of being in a car and debating whose version of a song is the best “We played Wild Horses on the car stereo / You prefer the Rolling Stones / And I like Gram’s”.
The Last One manages to combine gentle moments, with an anthemic chorus that leaves us all feeling optimistic about the days that we have ahead of us. Nobody Knows has some haunting, spine tingling strings and lyrics that relate to that special person in our lives, that person who we are helpless without, that person who knows us like nobody else and who we would be lost without, “Nobody knows me the way that you do / Nobody knows what we have been through” “Caught in the Rain / Helpless without you”. A Feeling That Never Came has some great electric guitars, disco sounds and lyrics which are all about moving on with life and how quickly things can change “I loved you, I did, I’ve put that notion to rest”, and 29 Palms Highway is a song about falling back in love with music and feeling that connection to the thing that has helped us to live a life, helped us through good and bad times and been able to take us away to magical places. Music does all of that and more. 29 Palms Highway is about going on a road trip, listening to music, feeling connected, feeling a sense of belonging and that love we must always have for music. The album closes with the title track and sees Klara and Johanna wanting to ride off on a Palomino horse which is an apt ending for this album which has been one of freedom, one of moving on, one of accepting who we are, living life to the fullest and believing that a future holds so much to look forward to.
First Aid Kit really are one of the wonders of the world, they are a band that we all need to continue to love and appreciate. With every album we feel that we get to know a bit more about them. They are never afraid to share their lives and emotions with us, they have always been true and honest to themselves, and I can’t imagine a world without First Aid Kit recording music. Many of us will be getting to the stage where we are finalising our albums of the year charts, make sure you leave space near the top for Palomino.