28 September 2013

Music Day - Grace

Yesterday it rained. Actually, it rained harder than I've ever seen in my life -- and consistently. Back home it'll pour rain for maybe five minutes, and that's all you'll see all year. Yesterday it was pouring rain when I woke up at 8.30, and it poured rain consistently for the entire day. If my academic day hadn't sucked, I would have been dancing around the building.

But walking to the academic building in the pouring rain to the 12.25 class, without a complete assignment in my hand, knowing that by making this walk without that paper, I was forfeiting 20% of my grade... suddenly, randomly, this song was in my head.

I'm not expecting grace. This is college. I'm not going to get away with not turning in a major assignment on time, no matter what the reason, no matter how hard I may have tried. But this song began to softly weave its way around in my head, adding that perfect poetic melancholy to the rain and that walk over the brick path to the building.

Title: Grace
Artist: The Choir
Album: Speckled Bird
Year: 1994
Label: R.E.X. Music
iTunes here; YouTube here.
You can buy a set that contains this album from the band here (it's near the bottom of the page).

You know, I didn't really like The Choir when I first started hearing stuff from them. It wasn't bad, but it didn't capture me.

Then, of course, I discovered Daniel Amos.

Daniel Amos and The Choir mix together in so many ways I can't keep track of them anymore. They play on and produce each other's albums (Tim Chandler is actually the official bass player for both bands), and members from both bands are involved in the Lost Dogs. Thus, my love for Terry Taylor's poetry has helped illuminate that of Hindalong and Daugherty.

I first heard this song in particular on the Cephas Hour a while back. I was hooked at Screaming at the newsman...

I love the orchestration. It's sort of reminiscent of DA's Dig Here Said The Angel (though lyrically it feels more like Prodigal). It has a slow swirling underwater-murky feel throughout, with so much ominous restraint in the low end. In the third verse, for about two lines, there's this sound in the background -- it defies description, but it sounds so cool.

It's the little things in the arrangement that make this song so startlingly melancholy. It's so different to hear a song start with the vocal right away. And then, when the lyrics have all been sung, the song ends. No goofing around with superfluous lyric repeats and high-falutin' guitar solos. They say what needs to be said and then shut up so you can think about it. I know I already said this, but it really is Prodigal meets Dig Here. It's beautiful. It's real. It pulls no punches.

It is the perfect rainy day song.

By the way: they're launching a Kickstarter program next week... and there's a free online concert on Tuesday. Check out their website for details.

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