Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered and mastered by Sam Patlove
The last time I wrote about Alberta Cross, the songs that the New York band wrote struck me as gloriously southern, of being prodded by the American south, its earth and its mystique to tell its history, or something of a variation. The six men seemed to let "spill out of their faces and clothing a sentimentality for the American south, for the rich, rough and tumble, hit or miss land of such considerable American history - the hells, the poverty, the country, the prettiness, the accented and the dusty and rusty - and they moved to the United States, not to fit in or to co-opt it, but to be closer to it, to not have to daydream the muse, but to be able to cone the hands to the ears and pick out the faint locusts and the calls from the sticks." Looking back on those words of a few years ago, they still ring true for me as the songs from 2009's "Broken Side of Time," remain beautiful tokens of heartbreak and the tattered people who have had to carry themselves through it. The newer songs that the band played for this session are evidence of growing with the years and of spreading roots, of fighting the urge to blame anything happening on anyone but yourself. They are songs of older men who have said so many things to so many other people that have been remembered, that have hurt and some of which that have make others feel good. They are men with weathered skin and crow's feet at the corners of their eyes. They are slower moving and they're more compassionate. They've learned well enough that they're just people and sometimes that can be extremely painful. Lead singer Petter Ericson Stakee makes these moods where we feel like we're sitting at the base of a sprawling and healthy, ancient weeping willow tree, the vine-like branches dangling down like leafy, frozen rain. It feels safe under there, where even the rains - if they should fall - would only get partially through and they'd likely just cool off a humid day, be savior-like when they hit. Stakee thunders with his soul, giving us stories that come out of houses that need paint jobs, fields that need tending and bodies that need energy and another body to hold.