Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It might just be the versions of these Rock Plaza Central songs that you hear before you, but they tend to set me off, thinking about old people and antique photographs, scenes and settings that don't exist anymore, all of those people who used to be alive, walking through the homes that we've now come to own and think of as our own. To think of that old bank or the other aging piece of architecture that was built by men who have been dead for four decades or more now. The songs here can give you the greatest chills, the ones that come to you when unpleasant, but not necessarily harmful thoughts start to creep into your thoughts. The stories that Chris Eaton uses as his descriptive tools have to be a hundred and twenty years old in spirit when they come to him. They come by way of the Pony Express and passenger pigeons, weary after so much travel to just get to him. They come in sepia tones and in garb that makes them all look like pioneers and the kinds of people that work too hard and have buried people they've loved far too young. They look as if they've aged far too quickly. They have been through tough country and they've seen the blackest and darkest of nights as they've plodded over the countryside in their travel. They've been hailed on, sleeted on, raining on and snowed on. They've been dusted out and all of it makes them feel relatively the same way, without much deviation. He sings on "Them That Are Good And Them That Are Bad," "When we fall far from the light, will it make our darkness bright?" and the sense is that the man singing that somewhat hopeful line is just looking for relative improvement, a betterment that just diminishes the sorrow but doesn't actually make it a scarcity. It's just a slight distinction to make everything a little more tolerable and a little less harrowing. These songs are from an old world, when people didn't keep pets inside their homes, when there was more than enough difficulty to wear hands to the bones and to wrinkle people before they'd reached marryin' age. There's an undercurrent of palpable fear riding through all of the breaths and hand movements that Rock Plaza Central makes - the ghosts in the keys and wriggling through the strings until they can burst out like sore muscles and heavy hearts, greeting us with whispered boos and hollers. It beckons us forward so that it can grab us and send us into a time-warp back to the days that those ghosts were young like we were, trying to show us where they went wrong, which led to a life of darker times. Eaton sings the songs on "…At The Moment Of Our Most Needing Or If Only They…" as if they're ancestors, personal memories from generations past and they beg for close readings. We're there to let the ladder from down from the attic level of a hundred-year old house of memories, not sure what we might dust off up there among the bats and things forgotten, the bones of long ago.