Arts Desk

One Track Mind: Marian McLaughlin, “Pluto”

Standout Track: “Pluto,” a piano-driven folk tune in which local cosmic folkie Marian McLaughlin (an occasional Washington City Paper contributor) ponders the plight of a cold and lonely planetoid drifting around the darkest reaches of the solar system. The song starts out distant and twinkly, but the arrangement quickly zooms into more expansive territory—booming drums, gallons of reverb, soaring backup vocals, the works. McLaughlin plans to include the song on a future EP, The Cantor’s Set.

Musical Motivation: The spirit of collaboration. Two years ago, McLaughlin was sitting in an Arlington pavilion picking songs on her ukulele when she caught the ear of Brady Keehn, a recent Georgia transplant and home-recording enthusiast. He recommended they try producing a few of her tracks in his basement studio. “I just did the voice and direction,” says McLaughlin, who mostly ceded the instrumental duties to Keehn and some of her friends. “I’m all about my nylon [guitar], but I had a vision for making a record that was more than that. It’s pretty awesome how it clicked.”

In Space, Nobody Can Hear You Shrink: According to McLaughlin, “Pluto” was inspired by the planet’s 2006 demotion to dwarf planet (or “Plutoid”). “It’s about how things are always changing and how it’s easier for us to say there’s eight planets, rather than 57,” she says. “The song’s a little bit about ego death, I guess.”

Listen to "Pluto" after the jump.

Marian McLaughlin performs at Above the Bike Shop May 5.

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