Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
What Pat Grossi reminds us of is how debilitating pure-cut love can be, how it can just eat you alive. If you let it in, it will take completely over, taking you into a back room and beating you so black and blue that you can't stand or see straight. All you're smelling is the stiff aroma of blood that's still caked around the inner arches of your nose - stuck there for the pummeling. All you're hearing is white noise or the voices in your head chattering about nothing but that person, that figment or that delusion. What the heart wants is typically what the heart can never, ever in a million years have and everyone knows that. We go on allowing these hearts of ours to dream hard and to continue believing that the impossible is possible, by dint and wishful thinking, should it just be wished for badly enough. Grossi, the Los Angeles-based songwriter, who records under the name of Active Child, is a man who has deconstructed this tendency to let love usurp all control, to run the strings and the pulleys and the curtains, and as he's gone ahead and put it all back together again, he's determined that there's no winning hand, just a majority of hands with similar, slim odds and a few that pan out nicely. He packs his songs with the kind of longing - breathless longing and hopeful grabbing - and the sudden pain that comes to a person right as the picture is starting to become clear with another soul of interest. He is very aware that there is no certitude when we are regarding love or its brethren, just a hazy lane with questionable footing and traction, a line that we walk that sometimes has a plank hanging off the end of it. Here we are, most often, as Grossi sings, stuck "somewhere between making love and being friends," the worst place that a person who wants the former could ever wish to wind up. "When Your Love Is Safe," is a song about protection, about both people hoping to hell that they're not going to get destroyed this time - that they're going to find a way, THIS TIME, to stay partially intact and to not get diced. It's one of those wishes that gets so tricky to work. There is always that thought about needing to be love to get love, to make oneself vulnerable to the act and the emotion and then seeing where you tumble off to in that blur. Oh sure, most of the time it's a regrettable time, but even then, often, there are the take-away moments of sterling memory that would never be returned for a billion dollars. These are the chances that Grossi takes with his gorgeous words, a voice that spills heaven's milk and bit of a weepiness that isn't weak, but brave. It shows, even in its saddest spots, the glimmer of hope that we will forever hold onto.