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“Easy Graces” by Sean Waters & and the Sunrise Genius: Grounded, Poetic, Striking

SWSG

Few songs manage the transcendent balance between lyrical quality and expressive soundscape, but Sean Waters’ & the Sunrise Genius pulls it off with wrenching ease in their 2020 release, “Easy Graces.” This is a song to listen to in rain-soaked cityscapes, with a blanket bunched around your knees and your heart propped open. It’s notable for its rich layering, aching vocals, and resolute storytelling – but above all else, for the nameless feeling it leaves you with, something between an affectionate nostalgia and a tender ache.

“Tears fallin’ down her cheeks like rain/Glistening stars on fifth and main/She said it’s easier to call her Mary Jane/Looking for a life that she might tame.”

A striking feature of this song’s opening verse is its emotive characterization. Within the first line, the listener gets a sense of both the speaker and the woman he pines for. I find the line “She said it’s easier to call her Mary Jane,” particularly expressive in this sense; we get the idea that this woman evades understanding, that despite her lovely demeanor and poetic qualities, she prefers to remain hidden – whether behind “Mary Jane” clichés or otherwise. The melodic structure and vulnerable vocals are comparable to Rob Thomas’s “Little Wonders,” and John Mayer’s Continuum era, harnessing complicated emotions into a bite-sized single.

“I don’t want to go out chasing different times and different faces/She kept going back to places where she could find easy graces and/Fell from the height she found alone, got to that place you find you’re gone.”

The chorus picks up energy here but remains quietly gripping, down to earth even in its emotional heights. There’s a gentle resignation to Waters’ vocals, aided by the near cinematic lyrics. The listener is placed into a moment, frame by frame, so it feels like we’re watching the story unfold in visceral and visual terms. It’s driven by a love that seems unconditional, if a bit sad at times – a story about a lover who is possessed by her own potential, her own darkness, her own capacity for love and loss:

She keeps her shadow as long as she can bear/Street lights shining down upon her hair.”

The characterization no doubt serves as the driving force in the song, punctuated by the lyrics’ unflinching commitment to detail and romance. Yet the lyrics never outshine their delivery; each word falls into the melody with natural cadence, forming a familiarity that will send this song to the top of your daily playlist.

Promises down like paper planes/Yeah she goes keeps a little piece of myself/Droppin’ petals in her wine for no one else.

I mean, are you kidding? The writing here is exceptional – and paired with Waters’ lush, introspective tone it becomes doubly compelling. It’s the type of song that you’ll want to send to your partner, and listen to on the weekends you have to spend apart from one another. A song that carries its weight in sadness and adoration alike.

“As poet’s pray/There we were on the night we start to play/Never mind choosing different ways/Fuse blown in the fields of sugar cane/She knows I loved her all the same.”

The song’s end is gutting – and reflective of its storytelling power. The narrator is unable able to reach the woman in the way he wants to, even after the nights where they “start to play,” and yet, despite everything, the love remains unchanging. This song is a soft burn. This is a song that doesn’t break the skin, but leaves bruises. Check it out as soon as you can.

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ONCE A WEEK.

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