Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Nearly every single week, in the New York Times or somewhere else, I find a recipe for a drink that I clip out and put in a stack of papers in a room in my house that exists for my stacks - papers, books, records and the sort. The thing with the recipe isn't an obsessive-compulsive thing, I don't think, only because it comes with the best intentions. It's done with the thought that, some night, we'll sit down and try to just relax and cool the engine. We'll throw on some vinyl and just mix a drink that we've never had before and listen or we'll sit side-by-side and knock off a bunch of pages in the booking that we're working on finishing. It will be one of those nights where you comment upon retiring for the evening that you should do more often. They shouldn't be the rare occurrences. They should be part of the plan -- something nice as a regular nightcap. But it's so twisted the way that our lives own us.
My stack of drink recipes - while still mostly gibberish to me with their directions and their calling for ingredients that I'd never know where to find at the store and would feel like too much of a rube to ask about - sit yellowing in the corner, probably never to be stirred by me. We unremarkably just go to the fridge for the easy beer with the pop top and we settle in for some more work that needs to get done before we're allowed to finally rest.
New York singer and songwriter Alyssa Graham reminds us that we're doing it all wrong. Yes, all of it is dreadfully wrong. Her music is something like a middle finger to our hurried night of easy and inconsequential beer and little spark. She sings as if there should be nothing to just slowing things down and step-by-step, put together a cocktail to be proud of, to sip and to savor. She seems to do that with a lot of things in her life. She makes you feel that you're missing out on so damned much by doing things your way. She's built differently and needs things to be different for her to feel the thrills that she craves.
"He's A Lover," from her latest album, "Lock, Stock & Soul," is an ode to a man who seems to have done everything correctly. He is the standard upon which all others are to be judged and it sounds like he knows the right way to run a hand up the side of a bare leg, just as he most certainly knows how to concoct every slow drink in the books. He knows how to unhook a bra in a manner that pickpockets would envy. He knows how everything is supposed to be. Graham sings in admiration, "He moves like honey through my veins." We take the lead from this mysterious man and we find that stack of drink recipes. We pull out just one and we start at the beginning. Here comes the slow and all that it may lead to.