As I write this review, a thick fog blanches the sky, and a gelid storm smatters the roof. My walks recently have developed a new phase of routine: the frigid refusal stage, where I stare out the window and think about how I should finally bust out my winter coat. Then I don’t, going out anyway, and feel the bitter wind go straight to the bone and fill me with tremors.
In October there’s a lot of talk about the thinning of the veil between worlds, and it’s no coincidence that this kind of trend follows us into the trenches of winter: the cold gets to the marrow of things, forces our bloated summer joy to condense into bouillon and become true nourishment for the coming winter.
A common comparison to this seasonal phenomenon is, of course, a classic: aging.
As we whittle down to our barest selves, it’s hard to miss the forest through the trees; if anything, because all the leaves have been shed. This philosophical simplicity—the clarity found in a bit of suffering and regret—is what Casey Dubie turns into elixir in her aptly titled single, “Older Colder”—also on the new Deluxe version of her EP, Consoler.
Casey Dubie has a delightfully natural voice and frank, confessional-style lyrics. The few frills and thrills you’ll find are in some oddly inspired funks and beats of the production itself (a bit The Japanese House in nature), adding some exciting dynamics. In fact, one of my favorites off her recent release, Consoler (Deluxe), is “High Low,” a song that leans a little more into the beat & indie pop of it all.
I’ve been going back to my roots
Nothing’s changed at all
Quarter collection and Mother’s correction
Inside my purple walls
My portable DVD player
I saved up all summer long
Buried my yellow lab three months later
And I never moved on
“Older Colder” begins with vignettes of Dubie’s memories as she returns to her roots: a quarter collection, her purple room, a DVD player she saved up for, and the burial of her treasured yellow lab. For the most part, the song grows with some added dynamics, but the pre-chorus goes sparse, as if evoking that return to roots:
Play it back now, watch it slow
I was better off, I know
Then the production picks up for the chorus, like a camera picking up fractals of light as it goes in and out of focus.
Before I got a little bit older
A little bit colder
Oh, I’m a little bit older
Little bit colder
Dubie has a wonderful live version of this song, where the frank lyrics and vocal tone are on full display as she sings on her porch, as if spinning silver out of the cold wintry air. The two versions of the song offer different feelings: in the live, one feels the shiver through their coat. In the official release, you can sing along with a bit of hope in your voice.
Heard my father say he missed her,
Ziplock of candy in my hands
Saw my grandma first time in make-up
Next to the funeral band
The song brings in some nice high harmonies, and distortion in the chorus, as if the memories are being added to in ways that are both joyful and distressing, muddying the waters. Ultimately Dubie has little to say about what that march of time means, only a feeling to share of the coldness, and that’s all it needs.
I’ve got heavier shoulders
’cause I’m a little bit older
It feels a little like the simple kindness of a stranger offering a light: the odd intimacy of their dollar store lighter coming close to your lips, a little flicker of warmth in a remote landscape of loneliness, bad habits, and regrets. There’s nothing to solve, but a little gained. With heavier shoulders is also some wisdom, and a greater appreciation of the inevitable coming of warmth, and spring, and light.
Ultimately, “Older Colder” is a perfect single for the coming winter.
As you listen, take comfort that though we grow older and colder, we also have moments of indelible warmth, listening to beautiful music from artists like Casey Dubie.