25 June 2007

Rain, falling is the only thing you ever do.

It’s all well and good for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, where the days are growing long and lazy. But let us not forget that for many, myself included, winter has only just begun, and summer seems like little more than a nice dream we had once.

And so I’m going to share with you all an album that always makes me think of winter. Of rain slamming into the windows while you’re in by the fire. Of the sound of rain on your umbrella, that you can hear even over your ipod, as you wait for the bus. Of driving through the city at night, the wet roads splashed with the light of passing cars and the streetlamps.

Treeful of Starling : Hawksley Workman

What is it about this album that conjures perfectly the dreary winter months in my mind?

Certainly winter and rain and snow are topics of many of the albums songs. In “You Are Too Beautiful,” a snow covered New York is the setting, and “Rain” is a lament to, well, the rain. Barely a song passes without some reference to winter.

But it’s more than that. Winter, and all that comes with it, imbues every aspect of this album, not just the lyrics.

The melodies, and the unique turns, highs and lows that Workman takes with his voice conjure a delicious feeling of melancholy. A feeling that perfectly mirrors the direction my thoughts go in as I ride the train home in the rain, watching the city through water blurred windows. Maybe it’s the brief flashes of bittersweet beauty, like a brief glimpse of sun through heavy rain clouds.

The piano plinks like delicate raindrops hitting puddles, and Workman’s voice is a thermos of hot soup.

And if summer is the domain of light, happy, easy reading, than it makes sense that winter is the time for heavy, rich books. And so it makes sense that the lyrics of “Treeful” are so layered with meaning and nuance. What starts out as simple commentary in “Ran,” becomes so much more by the songs conclusion. These are songs of loss, of longing, of new, fledgling love, of love older than memory itself.

The dense, meaning filled lyrics are contrasted beautifully with the sparse musical arrangements. Even when several instruments are being utilised, a simplicity remains. The lyrics are like your warm heavy coat, and the music is the icicles that hang from the fences you walk by.

You Are Too Beautiful
But you are too beautiful to be in bed with me
Yeah, you are too beautiful to be in bed with me

If you could see the thoughts I see

If you could see my faults, baby, you'd agree

A Moth Is Not A Butterfly
But some are happy in the bluest sky
And others search in the dark of night

And sadness is a silent right

A moth is not a butterfly

Buy the album

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