Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove, Illustration based on a photograph by Kirk Stauffer
It's odd to have two songs bring the image of a rabbit or a dog chewing off its hind leg to escape from a steel trap and try to stay alive, in just a span of six or seven minutes, but Sahara Smith did it. The Austin songwriter sings as if she's the connection between the grit and the teeth that the trapped bunny is going to need to make that instinctual decision to lean down to where the pain is throbbing from, shooting from in the grips of that wicked claw and start to work in getting rid of the bottom half of the foot. "Outside of Me" and "Long Way Home" are simply gorgeous takes on the idea of getting away from something and the landscape that she paints is one that's not typical for her area in Texas. It's a pristine landscape of snow-covered fields, everything awash in whiteness, that covering that makes everything traceable. Everything can be followed in a white field, as such, and Smith creates this image of something injured out in the night, trying to find help, trying to remove itself from these dire circumstances. The hope is that the cold with help the clotting. The hope is that the injury isn't as bad as it seems. Perhaps in the light of the next day, it will look bad before cleaning and dressing it up, but it won't actually be all that bad or deeply cut.
Smith sings on "Long Way Home," "Blank equation of the blood/Bleeding blindly in the dark like some disappointed dove/Would you mark my path with mountain snow/It's a long way home from here." It's as if there's a drifter's sadness welled up in the depths of her chocolate brown eyes, an understanding of pain that stretches much further back than her 23 years. It's a wonderfully beautiful sort of pain, the kind that people secretly long for. It keeps you honest. It keeps you humble and it keeps you careful. She sounds like she's observant of the pain that others take in and she watches how they deal with it, how it affects them. She does this with herself even more so, marking the strings and the burns with tabs. She's out to expose all of the scary parts of the things that she keeps to herself, letting nothing be so sacred that it shouldn't be explored. She finds the tender times to be rife with color, ready to be lived again, even if that means removing the scab and beginning the healing process all over from the start. She continues on "Long Way Home," singing, "Tell the maker that I'm broken/Falling open/In the naked afternoon." Right there is the blood dripping - bloop, bloop, bloop - across that floor of snow and we'll have no trouble finding where this will lead, what it's headed for.