Local guitarist Brooke Garwood and violinist Emma Dooley have brought a spacey glow to Charleston’s indie roots scene as folk outfit Girl Pluto, proving themselves a soft-spoken, yet unforgettable addition.
Having formed from a chance jam session after Garwood’s previous alt-folk group disassembled last spring, Girl Pluto’s first show at the Pour House seemed to strike a note of fortune. Fast forward to today and the duo has opened for Susto at Greenville’s Radio Room and supported tour dates for Florida-based indie folk group The 502s.
The pair of songwriters are in a place creatively where they not only appreciate feedback, but want to engage each part of the song with a willingness to change it. They’ve taken this approach into the studio at Little Bird’s Mega Hot Records to record singles to release in 2022, including “Acid,” a song about an accidental LSD trip that could double as a narrative of locating joy within the path of self realization.
“Emma’s violin part for ‘Acid’ before recording, it was completely different, and now I feel like it’s so amazing,” Garwood said. “I feel like if we didn’t sit down and pick apart each individual part, it wouldn’t have gotten to where it is now.”
The duo just put out a video for “Acid,” filmed by Susto’s Dries Vandenberg in Dooley’s backyard with guitarist Jay Hurtt accenting Girl Pluto’s electric guitar and violin, with Dooley’s finger plucks tempering the intro before she reverts to the classic fiddle style held throughout the song.
With misty lines, “The moon looks like a balloon,” and the gentle textures added by Hurtt’s guitar effects, the tune retains a lovely lyrical humility within a composition that cascades like water.
Garwood’s vocals with Dooley’s backing are a meditative harmony as they sing:
“Think I’m going blind / The world around me is spinning / I am far behind / Think I’ve lost my mind / But I can’t seem to stop grinning / Is this what it’s supposed to feel like?”
Even though technically the lyrics spring from a funny story of realizing you are on drugs after an acid tab disintegrated in your pocket when it rained, the words put to “Acid” are about accepting the inevitable, about feeling weird and not knowing why — which is a pretty enduring human condition these days.
With Girl Pluto as Dooley’s first foray into Charleston’s music community, she has learned not just how much work a music project takes, but the relationship you make with it, especially as a two-person group.
“It’s kind of like a marriage,” Dooley said. “You have to learn the way each person goes about things. Learn to not take things personally. The music world — it’s not as scary as you think. I never would have thought I would have been doing this. I was planning on going to medical school. I learned I’m allowed to do other things and explore other avenues of life. There’s no rush and you can enjoy it.”
It seems Garwood and Dooley know themselves pretty well and are crafting music that’s reflective of their loose grip on life’s twists and turns.
“Sometimes I can really doubt myself, but in the end I think having each other is really good. I think it would be way harder if I was trying to do this alone,” Garwood said.