Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
There is no deal cut. It's a total crapshoot. You're born and there's nothing assured. It's just a slap on the ass and you're expected to earn whatever's going to come to you. You're expected to figure it out, or look it up in a book. There is no place to take your gripes. The grind begins early and it extends much longer than ever feels comfortable.
The Chicago band The Hudson Branch makes this all feel like a delicate balance, not a montage of struggling, of pulling a plow. It's a matter of getting to a point in life where you're able to give up, or give in a little and not see it as losing anything. It's not a defeat or a decision that should be met with sadness. There are people here who are yelling their heads off and seen as crazy by those watching them. They're being warned to stop - that it won't be good for them to keep it up. There are people in these songs who are lost in their days, who would claim that they're stuck in their violent ups and downs, but putting themselves in those situations is likely closer to the truth.
Lead singer Cobey Bienert sings of these matters with great attention to those pivotal moments when things change - for the better or for the worse. There are those times when a person gets roughed up and loses a little hope. There are the days that are murdered. He sings about a person whose today's have given up on tomorrows. Nothing much can fix something like that. He sings, "A child lost his faith in the God of grace and now he can't find a place in this world/It's always something," and there's nothing sadder, but the lesson is taught through the bittersweet lens that someone like John Vanderslice has been so great at using over the years. These stories are mostly sad ones, but they're not completely sad and there are good reasons for that. Even with a lost faith in the God of grace, that's someone who shouldn't have been counted on for much anyway. He's less responsible that any of us would ever think.