Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
If you listen to just one of the songs on this DM Stith session (our suggestion is that you don't do such a thing) make it, "Pigs." It's a song from his last full-length record, "Heavy Ghost," released in 2009, and it's an absolutely stunning version of the number. It's about as good as a day of reckoning could ever sound. If the skies were about to rain with blood and the storms were going to start marching in, it sure would be nice if there was a cool, refreshing breeze like this one to provide the pretext. It would be the hot towel or the grip of a concerned and frightened stranger's hand that might get us through such an ordeal. The fingers would slide over your knuckles and fall into place between your fingers and they would pull together into a tight ball of hand. You'd look down and see those foreign fingers now lumped together and you might start thinking that everything was going to be okay when the big flash and nothingness happened. Of course, it certainly seems as if Stith would never believe in a great vanishing or the thought of it all ending in nothingness. He would insist that there's something great for us after the clocks struck zero down here. He seems like a believer and a dreamer and there might not be anything much better than being a combination of those two things. Stith lets his beautiful voice - an almost operatic and extremely pretty thing that falls in the middle of a Sufjan Stevens, Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles and Active Child swell - take us away, up and into a soaring level of emotion. The devil is circling and there's nowhere to go. There are buzzards and vultures bumping against a warm current and the harmonies of Stith's tourmates that day - Inlets - make this an unbelievably moving version of a song that paints the picture of a man who is sensing something big and non-negotiable happening with his life. It just happens to feel like an interrogation of the greatest proportions. The feeling is here that makes us believe that all of this is unexpected and it's what makes the scene such an anthemic one and such a thing that leads to an epiphany, even if you're not in need of one. Stith is an imaginative songwriter, using his relative chill to his advantage, letting it make the moments of apocalyptic crumbling feel ever more dynamic and serious, albeit picturesque. We'd look at, or listen to his accounts of the night of reckoning and think that it might actually bee some place that we'd like to visit. We'd be willing to jump right into the postcard that he sends from there. We hear or sense that the water's like bath water and he makes it sound as if we're never going to see anything like it ever again. We're sold.
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