[LYRIC INTERPRETATION] “In the Shallows” by Daughter

Daughter, a folk-indie British band, creates mesmerising pieces both lyrically and musically to soothe broken hearts. From my observations, they’ve merely released a small quantity of songs, but each as emotional, thought-provoking and/or confronting as the next. Their recent album, If You Leave, is one of my favourites of all-time.

Only recently have I rediscovered what I consider their most relaxing song, just in a different form. Unbeknownst to me, the version I previously downloaded from YouTube (oh yes, I’m one of those people; however, I fully intend to buy the album ASAP) was an acoustic version. Despite appreciating both variations of the song, my personal preference belongs to the original; heavy with ambience, a greater quantity of instrumentals in the background, and a suiting atmosphere absent from the acoustic version.

As with all of Daughter’s music, the lyrics are emotional combined with serene melodies. The following is my personal interpretation of In the Shallows. 

Let the water rise,
Let the ground crack.
Let me fall inside,
lying on my back
lying on my back

Visual imagery of serenity while doing an otherwise fearful action; falling heavily. One may consider the “lying on my back” as someone observing the skies as they fall, in a peaceful manner, watching every fragment of hope grow distant before hitting the ground. All of this, however, is done in a submissive, almost nonchalant manner –perhaps this is most haunting aspect of the song, and a key element amongst all of Daughter’s music.

Dry your smoke-stung eyes,
so you can see the light.
staring at the sky
watching stars collide
watching stars collide

Smoke-stung eyes. I imagine blurred vision, disillusions or someone who is unable, for a multitude of different possibilities, perceive a reality that contains hope. The common expression “rose-tinted glasses,” given to a blindly optimistic attitude, would be an antonym for “smoke-stung eyes.”

But the singer encourages this person –vaguely referred to as “you”– to acknowledge the impossible collision of stars, the beauty of light that streams through the skies. From this verse, the singer clearly cares about “you” in a nurturing, protective manner that encourages them to neglect brutality and focus on beauty.

If you leave,
When I go…
You’ll find me,
in the shallows. [x2]

“If you leave” can refer to various different forms of disappearing, from darker options as suicide or lighter ones, such as simply forgetting, and it’s the “memory” that has left. By the way, this is a beautiful reference to the album’s title –a subtle hint at the key theme that ties these pieces together.

A DEFINITION: shallow [noun] an area of the sea, a lake, or a river where the water is not very deep.

When the singer refers to being found in the shallows, it’s a reference towards only a fragment of their soul disappearing; perhaps their physical presence has faded, but their soul will always roam just beneath the surface. Perhaps out of sight, yet it will simmer in existence, or in “your” mind.

When the time comes,
on the last day…
when they start to come down,
will you just,
will you run away?
will you run away?

The “they” in this verse is rather ambiguous. From first impression, I considered it as the colliding stars falling to Earth, in eternal destruction and madness. Gone is the glimmer of hope expressed in previous verses, and the mention of time adds urgency and fear –emotions with such strength, the singer expects “you” to run away. Run away, hide, ignore, dismiss the end of your time, and the beginning of an eternal death, ending in destruction.

Let it all rain down,
from the blood stained clouds.
Come out, come out, to the sea my love…
and just,
drown with me…
drown with me…

The soul lingers. It offers comfort contradicting your previous notions of death, of the destruction –foreshadowed by the ominous “blood stained clouds” and the stars “starting to come down”– and provides an alternative; one where death is not in solitude, but one of unison. Here in death, souls don’t drown alone, but together.

If you leave,
When I go…
You’ll find me,
in the shallows. [x2]

Lying on my back,
Lying on my back,
watching stars collide.

Musically, this is my favourite part of the song, although the entire song is beautiful beyond words. The last passage offers the same viewpoint of “watching stars collide” from the singer, possibly relating their mutual perceptions together. I imagine “stars collide” to depict a world of a surrealistic, impossible hope –a collision of stars would result in twice the amount of light.


I’ve been listening to this nonstop for the last three hours. After every repeat, it triggers a range of emotions that I can’t fully articulate with words alone, especially since they vary rather extensively. This is Daughter’s raw talent.


6 thoughts on “[LYRIC INTERPRETATION] “In the Shallows” by Daughter

    • I love them too ❤ So happy to find another Daughter fan. Landfill and Medicine are also amazing; I can't choose favourites when it comes to Daughter, because I genuinely love them all so much –plus, they are so different from one another, perhaps not musically, but lyrically.
      Thank you for your compliment and for stopping by! ❤

      • Okay now you are making me feel bad about choosing a favorite lol just kidding 😉

        You are so right, their music makes them so unique especially lyrically !

        It was my pleasure to visit, See ya soon 🙂

      • Please don’t feel bad ❤ It's absolutely fine to have favourites; in fact, Daughter's a rare band where I don't have any.

        For The Fray, another one of my favourites, Vienna/Trust Me/Say When are my favourites, but I love all their others. 🙂

        See you soon, too ❤

      • Aah my favorties of The fray are a little too mainstream, ‘How to save a life’, ‘Be still’ and ‘You found me’ .

        Seems like you and I have a lot in common when it comes to music, A great plus for me ! 😉 😀

  1. Pingback: Bookish Survey 2014 | Ramisa the Authoress

Leave a comment! They make my day. ♥

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s