Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
There is nothing at all certain or sure about anything that exists on Los Angeles band Darker My Love's latest record, "Alive As You Are." It is an album that hits you as the light does when you round the corner, coming from behind a wall or a shade tree, out into the open of a wash of sunlight. Even with sunglasses on, the light somehow takes over and partially blinds you. You try to peer down, or twist out of its blast, but find that it's impossible to avoid that temporary loss of sight. You quickly come back, though, getting your sight back, catching a view after falling into another patch of shadow made by an overhanging bouquet of leaves or an awning. With Darker My Love - and specifically with the songs on the album - the people who populate them are continually faced with uncertain looks, mostly at themselves and where they're off to. They're not sure how they're going to act or be acted upon and they're not totally sure what they're going to say when they have the chances to speak. Lead singer Tim Presley introduces these scenes of widespread wandering and discontentment throughout this record, which seems to be a representation of people trying to connect the dots, but often that next dot isn't anywhere close to being in sight and in those cases, when the blues start to take over, these people tune into a late-night dedication show hosted by an octogenarian named Art Laboe. Sometimes a simple, but poignant song, coming out of the speakers of a radio, helps things. Sometimes it doesn't. He sings about walking aimlessly through the Mission district of San Francisco, thinking about a girl who's not putting the signs together. He sings on "Cry On Me Woman," "Since I've been back/I haven't felt the same/At night when shivers come/The salt gets in your eyes/It's like the blind to go/Right back to the life you know," and continues with, "The shoulder you're on/Has chipped and marks of its own/It rolls the cold/Like nobody I know/From it you see/The distance is brief/I could be right in your stream." Presley seems to give us these stories of never being in the right place at the right time (even a song about wanting to have a long conversation with a favorite author in his favorite restaurant - wherever that might be) and they end with the cliff, not a cliffhanger, with a landing that never comes. These folks are just out there, hanging in the breeze, waiting for something to take them. It becomes that hazy chain of smoggy, canyon music, drifting through and taking over everything. It stays there, lolling in the air, extended as far as the eye can see.