Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
The folks who pop into Dignan songs stick around for quite some time. They aren't the kind of fleeting characters that you feel like you meet in every other song you hear - those faceless pronouns out there, slugging their ways through their lackluster, disappointing or briefly sunny lives. We hear in the songs that Andy Pena sings, the kind of people who walk up the stairs in the homes or apartments every day, dead on their feet from having to work too hard to live, from the constant cycle of depressing forecasts and ugly regrets, just to find their unmade bed waiting for them in the same disheveled state that they left it in too early on a morning that seems like days ago. These people will take care of their regular nightly deeds - the teeth, the piss, the drink of water and the changing of clothes - and then they'll slip sloppily into the sack, a spot that contains indentations and impressions that they've memorized. The mattress has been softened by the familiar weight, those knobby knees and that growing gut. The pillows are deformed lumps of cotton filling, still absorbing whatever drool, whatever tears and whatever dream remnants they leave behind every night.
Dignan songs file along with those wake the dogs in the middle of the night anthems of fired up fear and dread - those feelings that we're all suffering here and yet we're all choosing to deal with it all silently, when we could be helping on another out, to get through these obstacle courses a little more unscathed. At times, you think you're hearing an incarnation of Win Butler, but Dignan tries on a different sort of feeling, getting deeper into the plight of those suburbanites with too many worries on their minds and not enough minutes in the day to address all of them. The observations get enhanced. We are invited in for a family dinner, even as that invisible visitor, unknowingly seated at the table while all of the dirty laundry gets served up, all of the dark secrets get hashed out over a meatloaf. We feel as if Pena takes us deep into the lives and hearts of the people that he sings about, people who couldn't run away from themselves or what they've made out of their days if they tried. It's been stained on them like the juice of a blackberry, like a burning poison.