“Should We Go Home Now?” It’s a deceptively simple question. But how do you find home when you don’t even feel comfortable in your own body?
This paradox is at the core of Naked Lake’s debut full-length. The duo, Abbie Painter (they/them) and Jordan Hartsfield (they/them), crafted an incredibly honest album that explores transition, coming out, and finding your own place in the world.
Painter purposefully framed the album around their hormone replacement therapy timeline, saying in a statement, “I wanted to write a song for every month that I’m on testosterone.” The album opens strong with “Baby Girl,” a beautifully heartfelt track directed at Painter’s family and friends. In it, they sing that they’re still the same person they always were, but they can’t ignore their dreams and needs any longer (“I’m still your baby girl, what happened to that boy I saw in my dreams? They looked just like me.”).
From there, we get more introspective and honest songs that tackle transition and the conflicting emotions that come with it – both certainty and uncertainty, comfort and loss, hope and fear. One song that stands out is “9:45,” where Painter narrates their trip to the pharmacy to pick up their hormones. The lyrics are incredibly striking (“Threading a needle in my skin, knitting myself some better clothes”), and the sparse instrumentals perfectly serve as their backdrop. Then, the guitar builds and Painter’s voice begins to crack, harshly shouting and asking, “Do you feel better?“
Another standout is “Pictures of God,” which refutes the idea that God would be anti-trans by citing Romans 12:2 (“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”) and likening the trans body to that of God Himself.
The lyrics are honest and insightful, but the instrumentation is equally fantastic. Oftentimes, a song’s composition took me completely off-guard – just when I thought I understood the formula and structure, it throws in a cacophonous guitar and synth intermission, like on “Fairyhouse.” Hartsfield’s guitar and synth work in particular is very impressive, perfectly complementing the emotional timbre of each song.
Progressing through the tracklist, the songs shift from hesitance to fierce conviction. All those lines about rebuilding and longing to feel comfortable build up to the final track, “Should We Go Home Now?” By this point, it’s apparent that “home” is your own body – a body that you sometimes have to remold and reshape in order it to really feel like you belong in it; to feel like it’s more than just a vessel you’re saddled with. The hesitation is gone by the end of the album – no more questioning themselves with “do you feel better?” Painter can now confidently sing, “I found home in my own body.”
These are perspectives we rarely get to hear on a mainstream level, so to have an entire album of painstaking vulnerability and honesty feels hugely important. Painter themselves commented, “Even when I listened to early mixes, I got so emotional because I felt someone got it and was there for you, no matter how much doubt or instability you’re having.” Naked Lake crafted an album full of the understanding words that they needed to hear.
And they’re the same words that someone else out there needs to hear right now. Words that will convince them that they, too, can find their homes.