We're always being told to 'live in the moment', but is that ever truly possible? This is the question at the heart of Not Enough, a new EP from Kansas-based songwriter Libby O'Neil. Across the EP's five tracks, there's a sense of struggling to stay in the present; O'Neil is trying her hardest to put both the past and the future out of mind, but inevitably, this proves to be easier said than done.
Track one is The Edge, a pretty, piano-led number that features O'Neil describing a gorgeous dawn scene before begging "please don't tell me what's beyond the edge, please don't tell me yet".
This song does an excellent job of capturing what it's like to be in the middle of a beautiful moment and desperately trying not to worry about what comes next. When our narrator sings "I need a beautiful obstruction", she's searching - perhaps in vain - for the thing that will finally get her mind completely in the present and stop her from constantly thinking ahead.
Of course, it's not just the future that tugs at our trouserlegs and distracts us from the present moment, and the shadow of the past looms just as large over Not Enough. Just as The Edge is about fighting to forget the future, Push You Down - the EP's fourth track - is all about trying to suppress the past:
"Sometimes when I'm driving down the same streets that stood before your door, it rises up to the surface: you under the streetlight, with me under your eyes...before I push you back down."
As you may have noticed, these five songs are pretty minimal in terms of production values (O'Neil herself describes it as a "DIY/indie folk EP that I made in my house"), but they're not exactly lo-fi; for one thing, Not Enough is far easier on the ears than most of the music bearing that particular label. Besides, the absence of studio effects makes Not Enough feel a lot more 'here and now', as if Libby O'Neil is right there in the room with you, playing piano and singing her songs. Appropriately enough, the production - or lack thereof - does a lot to heighten the present-ness of this set as O'Neil attempts to push back against the past and future.
But then, the present isn't always a bowl of cherries either, as O'Neil reminds us on Right Here. This song appears to be about watching your other half flirt with someone else and trying to be cool about it even as you're screaming internally:
"No, no, I have to be alright..."
So what's the outcome of all this? Do the tensions between past, present and future get resolved? Well, judge for yourself: the EP's final track, The Drive Home, finds Libby O'Neil on the verge of a departure, seemingly having made some sort of peace with her past ("I packed pictures of you") as she prepares to leave her present behind ("I'll lace up my boots...I have so far to go"). The matter of whether or not the future will be better is, ultimately, left somewhat ambiguous.
Not Enough came out on the 9th of May, and it is now available to download from Libby O'Neil's Bandcamp page.