Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
We think of the title of that previous record that Dax Riggs put out before his latest, "Say Goodnight To The World," as the cursor for much of the philosophy and thinking that the Texas songwriter does. The title of that album is, "We Sing Of Only Blood Or Love," and it speaks even to some of the basic laws of literature, suggesting that there are no new premises for story arcs or plots, but some very used and worn skeletons that all of the meat is thrown onto. You've got that idea - a beginning and an end and right in the middle somewhere, there needs to be some sort of conflict that has to be overcome to get us around the bend or over the hill to that ending, happily or unhappily. The stories are about love and hate and life and death, all of them mixed together in a volatile cocktail of intrigue and suspense. Riggs' title boils it all down even more, to a precise point, leading us to believe that anything worth singing about, anything worth giving a damn about has to do with that thick, red train motoring through us, the body that it's housed in and all of the euphoria and tragedy that we allow to sneak into it, to cloud it up, make it race faster or slow down to a sluggish crawl.
It seems that Riggs deals with his mortality the way a gravedigger might, with a shrug that could be implied as the most understated form of understanding that there is. They have no choice but to comprehend the finality of all of this when they're shoving a spade into the cold dirt, creating a sizable enough hole for a rigid and lifeless man or woman to lie in until they're no longer even there - they're missing, altogether. It's a recognition of the somber travels that we all make and the somber conversations that we carry on within our heads when no one else is around and all you hear are the frogs croaking at night, off in the distance, as you sit like a stunned, but awake lump. A line from "See You All In Hell Or New Orleans," the final song on "Say Goodnight To The World," an album that offers us doses of his bluesy, roots stomp, but also delivers touching, psychedelic vigils such as "You Were Born To Be My Gallows," has Riggs singing, "And when our hearts are drunk with sound/We cry like we're bout to die or just been born," and there may be no better description of our souls at those two similar, yet drastically different confirmations that there is a front and back to life's wick that will always catch us by some form of surprise. And to that we sing.