Amber Waves is album #50 for me. The songs keep coming. The words and experiences deepen and the next thing I know there's a record dying to be recorded. The trick is to not over-think it. Over thinking anything is the recipe for musical grandiosity. Steer clear.
Still, we're all living in similar skin. Our themes and stories through generations, whether rich or poor, are not dissimilar. Those are the veins I try to tap as a writer when me game is on.
#50. That's a lot of writing, recording and touring. i have worked hard at it. I have plied my trade, so to speak. The "vocation" has opened up worlds, both with & without. I've lived on the road the better part of 22 years. That proximity to the lives of folks all over the US and abroad is why I love the American people, aspects of the "American Experience," and Americana music.
When it comes to this country's musical heritage, I have realized for years now as a writer that one stands on the shoulder's of giants. It is a grand view.
Some of the early albums were released on major/minor labels. But most of them (post-label & label resources) have been simple, independent labors of love, released under-the-radar to a cult of fans who never seem to give up on me. It is humbling. I call that "Grace."
With a shot of oblivion. Shaken, not stirred.
There's strong thematics of grief & hope on this one. Death & loss have been a something to attend to for many years in my life. The passing of parents, the loss of friends. "All the good ones leave the party way too soon," I sing on "Into God Knows What."
This record is about the last word Love gets in the face of deaths (little & large) and grieving.
This record is sometimes about the "failed experiment" of democracy. It is about a joy manifesting in our spirits from time to time, often for no explicable reason. A joy born of something closely resembling a child's naivete. And that "thing" that is born is vital, enduring. It'll flies in the face of reality's harshness & cruelty.
It is about idols that lay claim to our hearts. We were made for better things. It is about a widening chasm between the surfeited, well-to-do who often turn a deaf ear to those who are downtrodden & "kept out of the game." It is about the confusion in our hearts and the weariness in out spirits.
It is about courageously living with incongruities of faith & life where once "definitives" and certitudes once held the day. It is about leaning on each others shoulders, bearing each other's burdens as a way to incarnate a shaky faith.
And finally: It is about "betting the farm" on a Love that is beyond imagining, even beyond our wildest hopes. These days Hope & Imagination drift upon a tempest-sea where the battle to become truly human is played out. And on many (most?) days our courage to hope and imagine are often felt to be drowning.
Maybe all good art starts and ends in the wounded-ness of our own spirits. I've written for 20 years, album after album, just to "heal" myself. Nothing more than that.
If "Amber Waves" has a "message" it is that our pasts (national and personal) are full of grieving, full of mistakes. We have not "seen" nor valued each other rightly. Our national conscience is stricken with a certain wounded-ness. And although our personal & national "pasts" have been shameful, it is quite often that those very same lives are marked by acts remarkably tender and heroic. Our "histories" are full of examples of faith & courage & compassion. We "work it out," as they say.
Love (again) has the last "say." It's all here on Amber.
We live in an era, full of "static."
Love, if not lost all together, is often hard to find, hard to keep, hard to sense and experience.
Amber Waves is part of my journey to sense and affirm that that Love is alive and well. It's an anthem of garage-y, noisy, lush, reflective, jangle-y, transparent, grieving songs
...all straining at affirming the struggle.
Thanks for letting me tell you what it looks like.
But mostly? It's just passionate, heartland rock & roll.
Remember: Don't "over-think it, kids."
released November 24, 2012
Bill Mallonee: vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, high string guitars, harmonicas, mellotron, synth
Jake Bradley: bass guitar, electric guitars
Bert Shoaff; bass on "Break in the Clouds"
Kevin Heuer: drums
Nathan Wall: electric piano
song & string arrangements: mallonee/rose
all rights reserved