Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's kind of hard to tell, but it seems that Bad Weather California lead singer Chris Adolf might be an optimist at heart - a hardened one - but an optimist all the same. You might never get him to admit it, but it just might be there. He's usually too damned busy seeing the stains and the rips, the way the sky droops low, the way birds always seem to fly over top of him and shit on his head and shoulders, the way that it's frequently raining and his pockets are only full of lint. The songs that he writes are overcome with tales of lucklessness and serial drags. The people that he writes about are getting it from all sides and it's all they can do not to just throw in the towel and then come over and help you throw yours in as well, as you hesitate and hold onto it. Those are moments that can either take precedent or they can be short-lived, the fits of frustration and disappointment, but not where the true feelings lie.
For Adolf, one gets the feeling that his true feelings lie somewhere between redemption and some form of gray day ensemble of worried notes and strains. The needle tips closer to redemption, or closer to people helping people, holding them closer than they think they might rightfully deserve, closer than anyone's ever held them before. It tips in the favor of the kind hand around a shoulder, bringing the blades on over and saying some nice things in an ear. It's calming the panic that strikes us when things get moving too fast, when the roof caves in, when the basement floods, or when our dog dies and we feel that everything is working against us. It may well be, but that doesn't mean that the sun isn't out shining and we don't still have a chance to be happy and warm. Adolf sings on "I'll Sing Along," "Last night, babe, when I saw you was callin' I knew you was out in the rain/You could stand in my sunshine and drink all my good wine/I know you would do me the same/You was lost, lost, lost in a big, mean world/But you was born a little baby/And suddenly you found yourself grown up/When this world is big and mean/Red-faced, belligerent and free/And when you still feel like a baby/Call me/Call me/I'll sing along."
The Denver, Colorado-based writer sings often about sunshine - about whose is whose and about sharing it, about stepping into his and benefit from it if yours isn't as strong as you need it to be - and about getting stuck out in unexpected storms, knocking on a door just to get dry for a while. There is an urge to provide that crutch, though these folks giving the advice or the refuge are by no means fully put together themselves. You hear them as people hoping that there is some sort of reciprocity that might happen at the end of a consultation, at the end of the rehabilitation and kindness that they've offered. You hear this and then you realize that it's still nothing that you'd call expected as a tit-for-tat. It sure would be nice, but if it doesn't come, it doesn't. It could just be that the scene is of a sad person walking into a bar alone, ordering himself or herself a few drinks, taking them down solemnly - with a graven expression, with weariness wearing deep in the lines on their face, and the bartender pours another and silently slides it your way. They know it won't solve anything, but it's just the kind of kindness that person needs that night.