There I was, pushing my straw broom, listlessly brushing away the detritus from the well-worn sidewalk. “All work is noble,” I reassure myself. A gust of wind from a passing truck kicks up a swirl of dust and a sheet of crumpled paper blows against my leg. I pick it up to examine it, knowing every piece of a life discarded tells a story like a hidden treasure. On one side is a clipping from a newspaper article, the printed words are chopped and torn and it seems very old. On the back is written a poem, a story. It begins…”my brother went to prison, my cousin went to war…”
I am drawn into a story in which I feel I am easily imagining half of it, a voyeuristic peek through someone’s window whom I feel I might have known in the past but have since forgotten. There is loss and redemption in its voice, yet a subtle comfort in its resignation. There is a lesson here, a moral of the story so to speak, but it’s promise is not to educate so much as to illustrate. The words tumble around blind corners, slivers of light escaping houses where scornful faces draw the shades.
The finger picked guitar builds discreetly, additional instrumentation sneaking up on you as the story unfolds. “I never wanted children for fear they’d be like me…” the voice croons. “So instead I grew a garden, which I treated neglectfully.” The poofy thumping of bass drum looms in the background. A lush guitar drives the final chorus home like a designated driver. Or a caring companion putting a drunken friend to bed, tucking them in as they ramble themselves to sleep. “I’m a heavy, heavy hitter…”
Hints of Drake and Dylan, sure. But here is a storyteller with a sense that this could be about anyone, anywhere. This is the essence of folk music, well executed with a sense of place in a sea of timelessness. The context is left for you to ponder, there is no final stinger. No last poke with a branding iron to leave you rattled. Just a warm quiet pillow on which you drift away, the melody still haunting the space where dreams and sidewalks converge.