It’s been cold, rainy and windy here for a few days. Really gloomy stuff. And not just because Prince left us. Well, maybe. His legend is still growing post mortem to the point where I may have heard about his ability to change the weather with his confident, post-guitar-solo, self satisfied grins. Regardless of the origins of this weather (probably it just being April?) the wind alone is enough to keep you inside and hope that a tree doesn’t come crashing down on your house. Thankfully I’m renting, but I’m still not real excited about the constant anxiety of a tree branch crashing throw my window and torpedoing through my chest. Worst case scenario: I die from a falling tree and my friends and family continue to think Minnesota is just an entire state of “the woods”. Yes, that is what scares me most about my death, Misinformation about how urban Duluth is or is not.
Anyway, while I’ve been awaiting my not-at-all unlikely death by tree I’ve been listening to a great rainy day album. The album is called Petals and it’s from the Colorado Americana band Elephant Revival. I saw them a few months ago opening for Josh Ritter and I was impressed by their live act, especially the vocals from Bonnie Paine and the fiddle playing from Bridget Law. The other (male) vocalists helped compliment things and some of the strongest tracks live were actually the instrumental ones. But Paine’s voice is still the thing that stands out to me whether she is taking lead or backing up her bandmates. It’s Paine’s voice and Law’s playing that again lead songs off the new album including “Hello You Who”, “Furthest Shore”, and the title track, “Petals”. This is not a solo album though (or a duo album? that doesn’t sound right?); it is still a mix of all their singers, with “On and On”, “Home in Your Heart”, and “When I Fall” being my favorite non-Paine dominant songs. (Even though her subtle backing vocals do help.)
I don’t know what it is about this album that makes me think of rain. Well, other than the song “Raindrops”. It’s more the ethereal quality of Paine’s voice and the subtle use of strings that are reminiscent of the wind. You know, the strong, tree destroying, fiddle evoking hurricane wind that’s outside my window. As a whole these songs don’t hit me as powerfully as their previous work. For some reason when I listen to their older songs like “Ring Around The Moon” and “The Pasture” I see that music playing while a herd of wildebeests stampede, yet on these songs I can’t help but just watch the rain drops hit the puddles outside. Yes, I’m aware that I’m depressed, but I’m facing my untimely tree death, what’s your excuse? There’s other water imagery from the cover art to the references to rivers and sea monsters, but I’m still hearing rain in every whispered word & banjo note and I’m still hearing swirling winds on every Law solo. I’d like this storm to pass and when it does I’ll start listening to something sunnier, but for now I’m going to sit and listen to this album a little more. And probably the rain. And that tree buckling wind. Please don’t let this be the last album I listen to.