Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The young woman that Sydney Wayser is seems to be a young woman who is already fluent with the ideas of mortality and the weight of the world. It's not just because of her gorgeous new song, "Atlas," which takes cues from the mythological persona from ancient Greek literature and not just because she uses a line such as, "I'm sorry about this because carrying the whole world is hard work." She tangles hummingbirds and their jittery flight patterns and schedules with this sort of overwhelming burden that Atlas has, making it all feel comingled - these tethers and all that's untethered. She's already identified the sad and lonely things in life that bring her different kinds of joy or amazement and she writes about them in her songs, with poise and a draftiness that is heavenly, something along the lines of a requiem and a prayer. The first minute of "Atlas" is straight out of the church pews, a page torn from a hymnal, dressed down and crooned with a Sunday morning, Saturday night coming down sort of feel, peeling off the harmonious feathers and singing, "I'll go down this road to find my brother/I'll go down this road to find a friend/I'll go down this road to find a sinner in myself/I'll go down this road again." It's a lesson in past transgressions and one in being okay with the thought that sometimes these bad choices and these hard lucks are bound to happen again, no matter how many attempts are made to avoid them. There's still a world and there's still someone needing to prop it up, to put it on its fingertips for axels. Wayser's general feel is one of sidelong beauty and the kind of alluring and husky melodies that are immediately appealing and primed for getting attached to in a relative hurry. Her songs are those without weakness, no holes in the fabric and no kinks in the procession. They feel immediately familiar and yet she doesn't tread those easy and often trite roads of lyricism, choosing instead to let her mind wander and getting into all kinds of things that she didn't know she was going to get into and be interested in. "Pomegranate," a song from her recent release, "The Colorful," is a slow fire that starts with a match clicking against a hard surface and then puffs itself out and into something that never falls over itself, just eats through the flammable material in its way, chowing down on the available oxygen and leaving a fading light and a funeral in its wake. It's as if there's a cold window letting the smoke and the fire drift out of the room upon its own free will, taking with it what it wants, leaving whatever kind of destruction it feels it needs to leave to have felt good about the job. It's really a song that speaks to two people not letting each other go - one leaving, or both leaving, and one promising to be watching the other from a distance. It's a spooky entreaty to the other, who may not give a damn about any sorts of games or entreaties, to not do anything stupid or there will be consequences. Really, there are no consequences. In this one particular case - as is different from most of Wayser's lush and giving songs - there is no consequence to be had, just the end of a fire.
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