Love is a subject in art that is frequently used to depict unity and tension—sometimes both.
Because it is a universal subject, it’s easy to relate to a song, a painting, or a book that makes love its main theme. In Patric Johnston’s EP, “Something Something Love,” Johnston writes about love as a musical triptych in which each song comments on finding and keeping love.
The song, “The Last Time,” jumps straight into the tensions of a relationship that is on the verge of breaking up. The folksy instrumentation makes this subject seem more personal and intimate. You can sympathize with Johnston when he sings,
So you know
That you’ve sown
And all those seeds have grown.
This imagery in the introduction conjures for you the Biblical proverb, “you reap what you sow.” In the musical garden of this song, Johnston addresses the other person as already have planted the destructive seeds of their relationship.
The bridge then emphasizes how Johnston will no longer trust this person. It’s interesting because the chorus is solely the phrase, “for the last time,” repeated twice; the focus is on the instrumentation of the banjo, guitars, drums, and piano, like these instruments affirm Johnston’s decision to leave the relationship.
While “The Last Time” captures the quiet anger of the relationship in its final moments, the second song on the EP, “Love to Give,” is more uplifting and ethereal. The spiritual aspect of this song makes the lyrics and music even more divine. I love how Johnston opens the song with the piano and a lyrical scene:
First day lovers
Under third world covers
It’s been a real slow month.
Johnston’s expertise lays in how, even though his choruses repeat themselves, he builds off the emotion of the lyrics. In “Love to Give,” he focuses on these lyrics:
I’ve got a lot of love
A lot of love to give.
It captures the overwhelming feeling of wanting to build a life with someone you’ve just met, and the soft backup vocals give the chorus a new sense of importance.
Johnston finds spirituality in the reciprocity of a relationship.
Finally, in the song, “North Main St.,” the sparsity and density of the piano, along with the lyrics, takes you into a saloon in the old west. Johnston’s vocals sound distant throughout the whole song, the timbre of the piano strained, as though this song was recorded in a completely different room with a single mic.
The first line is reminiscent of Dylan Thomas’s poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night.”
Don’t you dare let me down gently
Lay my body in all the tires.
This command, as well as its allusion, seems to indicate that Johnston is once again fighting to keep his relationship. Because the Dylan Thomas poem is about fighting against dying and complacency, there is poetic lens of pending loss.
When he repeats that lyric a few seconds later, he adds a statement that reflects on death and darkness:
So don’t you dare let me down gently
The first time I fall is when I die
Oh, the first time I fall is when I die.
This bleak moment lets you into Johnston’s despair about another relationship ending. He even admits in the song,
Oh, I think I was wrong
In the end, this EP artfully captures the tumultuous terrain of finding and keeping love.
The catharsis for you is in the song, “Love to Give.” Johnston is able to give a voice to grieving a break-up not once, but twice. This tandem of grief and love gives this EP a well-rounded, original perspective on relationships.
Follow Patric Johnston around the internet here. Stream Something Something Love on Spotify below.