Midwife’s music is different in a way, and that becomes clear from the very beginning of “Forever”: “2018” starts with a piano melody in minor keys before the ambient spheres starts in the background and Madeline sings “This is really happening… to me” as if she wants reality to fall apart and away under her vocals. You can already hear her despair under all the distorted singing, she is not going to sing about the beautiful sides of life. She is moaning, accusing life of all the negative things she is going through, like the loss of the beloved creative working/living space Rhinoceropolis in Denver in 2016 and, even harder for her, the suicide of her friend Colin Ward, who she shared an apartment at Rhinoceropolis with, in 2018. Ward can be heard reading out a poem on “C.R.F.W.” (his initials) for about four minutes until a simple drone sets in spiraling upwards accompanied by simple guitar lines and no additional words – a kind of wordless mourning.
Pain and beauty – the two sides to Midwife. The drones have slightly harsh endings just before they ebb away beautifully. The guitar lines are steady but never boring as the are often supported by a delicate echo that makes them reverb into open space. Johnston’s compositions float through the air not being tied to any earthly weight so that you watch them for hours on end without being bored at all. On the other side, the lyrics can have a very different effect because they are among the saddest in a long time. Forget all those black metal bands who are trying to tell you how dark their lives are – Midwife’s songs are real because they are honest and one truly feels afraid for what is going to happen to her next.
This might be the catharsis of the year, the one record which tells you how shitty life is and how you are not able to run away from it. But talking about it at least opens your chest for a breath of fresh air while looking up at the beautiful blue sky outside. Beautiful moments in painful phases of life – Midwife.