Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
If we were to put together a broad-sweeping catch-most composite of a regular guy, we'd through out the sketch of a man just under six feet in height, around 180 pounds-ish with few, if any answers that he could stand by. He would be relatively content with a morning coffee and he'd like talking about how poorly he's been hitting off the tee lately and/or how his knee or his back's been bothering him. He would be impatient with the service at this or that restaurant - just wanting a drink. He would be grumbly about the price of gas and he'd be shaking his head about all of the difficulties that he seems to have accrued over the years - between love, family and work. They just keep adding up and he'd like to actually appreciate a sunset once in a while, rather than be consumed by the messages on his phone and the lack of money in his bank account. This composite man would be into Wes Anderson movies and the concept of at least trying to get through Shelby Foote's Civil War opus, Melville's "Moby Dick," Joyce's "Ulysses" and David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" before they die. He'd likely have fired a gun, probably only at skeet or tin cans filled with water. And, he'd likely have left all kinds of romantic ashes lying around - some of them not ashes, but more like goose turds around a lake.
Ambassadors, a rock and soul band out of Brooklyn, New York, mines those romantic ashes and those good turds of romances and dalliances to portray the sorts of burdens and hang-ups that are hard to avoid collecting as the years go on and you've bumped into more and more people, fell for and away from more and more of them. There's no getting rid of the residue of these relationships, no matter how much effort is put into pushing them out of the way. We all tend to be products of our emotional hoarding - covering it up or pretending it's not there - until there's no chance of ignoring it any longer, as it's pouring out of us, out of the windows and doors of our home.
Lead singer, Sam Harris, has the emotive voice of a preacher man on these four songs, making us feel that we're being taken down to the river for an old-fashioned baptism, where all of our sins will be absolved by the dirty water and some higher power that we've now come to believe in. He takes us deep into some past loves, the ones that looked more like chew toys that the dog had torn to shreds, but have morphed into something prettier with time. He sings, "Held onto your letters/They're getting better with age/Now my desk's like a pulpit/And my bed's like a stage/See all these debts keep me under/Ain't no words worth the cost." The waters get too hot sometimes. We get too busy. Our judgment slips and our logic falters. We pollute ourselves. Sometimes the baptism is rejected or it doesn't take. Sometimes we don't complete the journey.