Abi Reimold | photo by Haley Richter | haleyrichterphoto.com | courtesy of the artist

We’ve had a great vantage point from which to observe Philadelphia artist Abi Reimold these past few years. She’s a WXPN intern alumnus and an occasional contributing photographer for The Key – a tremendously talented one at that, who has covered festivals and studio sessions for us. We’ve also seen her forge her path as a singer and songwriter, from her 2013 Folkadelphia session to the release of 2014’s excellent Forget EP and her place in the lineup of our tribute to Patti Smith’s Horses.

When Reimold sent over an early stream of her LP Wriggling last fall, it was clear something big was afoot, and when national press started picking up on it this winter, it felt less like the “exciting new artist” it may have seemed to them and more that of a hard-working songwriter getting her due.

The album soars across cathartic highs and lows, and corresponding dynamics in volume. Guitar strings rattle, Reimold’s voice trembles and takes you on a roller-coaster ride through beautiful melodies and heartrending emotions. She’s been getting the Mitski and Angel Olsen comparisons, and they totally make sense as a reference point – but, funnily enough, when she first played me her music a few years back, I mentioned Olsen and she grinned. “I didn’t listen to her until people kept telling me I sound like her,” she admitted at the time. Her songwriting, Reimold reasoned, is her own – and Wriggling is a stunning introduction.

We’ve already heard the aching “Sugar” and the suave cabaret of “Vessel.” And now that the whole album is streaming over at The Fader, we hear even more variety, from the singsong pop of opening track “Arranged” to the brutal heaviness of “Mask,” where Reimold for a minute sounds like fellow Philadelphia noisemakers Creepoid (seriously). We’ll be digging into the album all week long on Unlocked, the Key’s recurring spotlight on new and significant releases from Philadelphia artists. That includes a record review tomorrow, a video documentary on Wednesday, an interview on Thursday and some musical curation on Friday.

Today, we spotlight a cut at the album’s mid-way point. “Machine” is not as crushing as Wriggling‘s hardest points but not as airy as it’s lightest. Rather it’s a melodic rise and fall that sounds positively serene, even playful. “Laughing hard and losing it/ is only as good as who you’re with,” Reimold sings, a sort of nod to the importance of tight bonds of friendship and community that she’s solidified in Philly these past few years. In that sense, it’s appropriate to hear playing from one of the members of Friendship in the mix; in the song’s more reflective B-section, loud guitars begin to roll in like the tide alongside an atmospheric pedal steel lead from guitarist Peter Gill – Reimold’s tourmate and sometimes backing musician who also appears on “Trap.”

Listen to “Machine” below – get details on Reimold’s April 28th headlining gig at Johnny Brenda’s over at the XPN Concert Calendar – and check back all week long for more from Wriggling in Unlocked.