Valley Remembers to “Water the Flowers, Pray for a Garden”

The title of Valley’s “Water the Flowers, Pray for a Garden,” could have been taken from someone’s to-do list. The character conjured seems to need reminders of how to move forward – they’re “honestly, all out of options.” This song gives us an inside view of what loneliness sounds like. The vocals are compressed as though […]

Katie Pruitt Doesn’t Need to Be “Jealous of the Boys”

Who dresses up in a fabulous costume to step into a fearless alter ego capable of extraordinary feats? Whose hidden, secret self is maybe more true than the face they present to the workaday world? Drag queens. Also, Superman. “When I was younger, I wanted to be Superman,” sings Katie Pruitt on her new song, […]

Stephanie Lambring is “Being Real About Fakeness” on “Cover Girl”

Who publishes an album cover that’s a picture of herself with the word “Hypocrite” after her name? A brave soul; her name is Stephanie Lambring. Before getting into her song, “Cover Girl,” I want to talk about the album cover. She’s mostly in shadow, but light reaches out to her face (and one lace-covered elbow). […]

Kacey Musgraves Has Questions About Creation for “The Architect”

I’m no theologian, but it seems to me the title character of Kacey Musgraves’s “The Architect” is probably God… The name Architect is not too far off from Creator. This song approaches the world as a work of art, and reaches out for the artist’s hand. Musgraves hides complexity in simple questions. She begins with […]

Robby Hecht’s New Song, “Old Radio”

Bracing for nostalgia, I was surprised to find that Robby Hecht’s “Old Radio” is as much about the future as the past. The chorus may sound like something you’ve heard before. Some of it you have. Hecht rhymes “fly/high/cry” and “long ago/low/radio.” These sets of words are frequent co-workers in song. One could call them […]

Mon Rovîa Finds a Way Back with “Don’t Lose A Good Thing”

Change is the heart of Mon Rovîa’s “Don’t Lose a Good Thing.” The song pleads, “Change with me, baby.” Mon Rovîa sings the line with as much intensity as any more standard love song plaint, like “Kiss me” or “Don’t leave.” There’s room for those, too, sometimes you do have to beg. But acknowledging that […]

Hit the Cement: An Essay On Commitment

When the first mic stand fell, I saw the singer hesitate. He had taken the microphone in hand to sing into the faces of the crowd – a good move. Nobody was dancing, and the band (Films on Song, whom I’ve praised elsewhere) was giving us plenty of reason to. Since we weren’t coming to […]

The Mountain Goats Witness a “Murder at the 18th Street Garage”

The Mountain Goats don’t need me to tell you that they have a new album, Jenny From Thebes, out October 27. The need is in me. I have to tell somebody Jenny is back. In her prior appearances in the Mountain Goats catalogue, Jenny is a vanishing figure. Even in the song named for her, […]

Inspiration and Imitation

Inspiration is a beat-up word – people can’t decide whether it’s the origin of artistic creativity, or a mythic state invented to give people an excuse not to work at art. I like it, though, as a word for the breath you take in when something makes you gasp. I take that gasp as a […]

Films on Song Leave Room for Imagination in “Gnome”

“Gnome” is a song about killer gnomes. What I like about it, and about the work of Charlottesville band Films on Song generally, is its emotional realism. Songwriters Jonathan Teeter and Francis McKee collage stock images from science fiction with snippets of everyday speech, making stories set in someone else’s dream of your hometown. I […]

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