At times, I have simple tastes. Sometimes it seems it's the simplest music that touches me the most. I'm OK with that. I'm OK with not feeling complicated and being forced to think about my music too much. The most basic sort of music just pure human emotion set to the perfect beat is enough to bring a lump to my throat lately.
There are hundreds of good musicians right now making every kind of fine music
you can think of and more. I've got stacks on my floor to prove it.
don't have the motivation lately to check most of 'em out. My mind is constantly
somewhere else. It's like sitting in the waiting room you're flipping
through the pages of a magazine, but you couldn't give a rip about what's in
it because you're too busy waiting for your name to be called. That's where
I am right now. I'm in the waiting room. I don't know what I'm waiting for. But
I know where I am will soon pass, the way you know you're growing up and things
will never be the same again.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, about where I am and where I'm headed, what I'm losing and what I'm gaining. I get scared a lot about making the wrong moves, about missing out, giving in and giving up. Something in Rilo Kiley's new set of songs truly touched me, connected to whatever it is I'm going through, which rarely happens lately. It's the best waiting-room music I’ve heard in some time.
I was walking downtown thinking, wondering if it was normal to feel that every day is a struggle. Is it supposed to be this hard? Is this living? I wondered if there are people out there who feel basically pleased each day, fine to go about their routines. Or do we all share one true bond as humans struggle? I decided life happens in short bursts of emotion, and in those fleeting moments, all the rest fades away; that if I had the chance to have another lifetime, I'd take it only if to feel human emotion again. I envy people like the members of Rilo Kiley because they can capture real emotion in song, forcing me to remember why life is worth it.
Basic but gorgeously textured pop-rock with a country tinge, Rilo Kiley's music
is led by vocals that'll stop you in your tracks. Singer Jenny Lewis easily handles
country, soul and alternative songs, her voice suffused with joy, sorrow and
veers among breathtaking, elusive folk, sweeping pop, and infectious, guitar-driven
rock, with a horn, slide, electronic effects, cymbals or handclaps tossed in
for variety here and there. But the words, in all their nakedness and simplicity,
drive the emotion home.
Each song tells a story or expresses a feeling; none makes you work to understand it. The conversational lyrics aren't about sounding obscure and difficult. The word choice is so simple sometimes it could seem like a cliché, but there's power in simplicity.
The lump in my throat didn't begin to creep up until "Accidental Death," which made me feel uncomfortable and naked for a moment, as if someone had just seen a little too much. "You're obsessed with finding a new brain/ But what you need is a new body/ It feels your brain has lived a thousand lives before," Lewis sings, her urgent vocals pushing and straining atop bubbling rhythms.
"And the skin you call your home
Holds a heart that quits
And knees that buckle in
And lungs that can't breathe when they’re alone.
And the days come to you like sailors
You watch them as they drift away
They move the sunrise out in the horizon
And it's neither sink nor swim
At least the water's beneath your chin."
Right about there I was at once sad and relieved by how much I related. As much as you want your feelings to be only yours, it's not so bad to be reminded you're not alone.
But it's also easy to be touched by a story you can't relate to. The brooding "Does He Love You" is a sad song about a woman waiting for a married man to leave his wife for her. He eventually does and they marry. But of course, he goes on to promise another woman he'll leave his wife for her. "I guess it's spring/ I didn't know/ It's always 75/ With no mountain snow," she sings desperately. The sweeping sounds behind the song build from quiet, intimate pity to booming empathy.
Glowing with warm acoustic sounds and flamenco beats, "A Man / Me / Then Jim" tells
of life's struggles, of letting go and moving on. Beginning with the
of a friend's suicide and the note left behind (which read: "If living is the
problem/ That's just baffling") before continuing through a number of sad tales
to conclude that life's biggest heartache is "the slow fade of love/ It's your
gradual descent into a life you never meant."
But, riding on a whistling slide guitar and sweet acoustic pickin', the title track may have summed it up better: "With every broken heart/ We should become/ More adventurous/ Let me be loved/ Let me be loved."
It may be simple, but that's all you need.