As I'm currently transitioning from being a student to being a
contributing member of society aimless wandering nomad, I've chosen to theme this minute's music on "transitions". Listening to others deal with changes in their lives is an under-appreciated tool for handling any situation involving doubt, loss, or even overwhelming good fortune. As an extra-meta added bonus, the post itself is a transition from album reviews to song reviews, for the purpose of more surgically extracting relevant insights from music. These tracks from Noname, Bobby Charles, and Mac Demarco shed light on the conflict, confusion, and exhilaration that change can bring.
Noname - "Freedom (Interlude)"
“Freedom (Interlude)” is a stream-of-consciousness monologue in which Noname passively observes her emotions taking vacillating twists and turns. The Chicago poet repeatedly defines the nature of the song within the lyrics, beginning with “I thought I was gon’ write a rap”. The first few lines are a dispassionate collection of disparate thoughts over pacing keys and hand-claps, but the lyrics take a dark turn as she anxiously notes, “the walls is caving, the laws is changing”. Now, Noname “think[s] this is a song about confusion and perception” and plunges deeper into somber subject matter, guiltily imagining the life she could have had with her aborted baby. She fluctuates between finding divinity and losing grasp of her dreams, before finally concluding that, “this is a song for overcoming and becoming”. A sort of enlightenment is achieved when she finally exclaims, “Dance with me, dance with me, I know I’m free” and allows the listener to ruminate as the beat plays out. Noname's moment of reflection spurred an emotional transition from hopelessness to freedom.
Bobby Charles - "I Must Be In A Good Place Now"
"I Must Be In a Good Place Now" describes love thawing the pain of difficult times. The melodies are sober and meditative, matching lyrics that exude genuine ease and gratitude rather than infatuation. Charles adores wild apple trees and a sunset while he calmly “dreams of [his] yesterdays and tomorrows”, attributing the permeating tranquility to his lover. His lucid emotions are complemented by fluid piano lines, rich, twangy guitar fills, and a steady, soothing bass line. The track is an effortless illustration of love transforming a daunting thicket into a verdant meadow.
Mac Demarco - "Moonlight On The River"
Upon first listen, “Moonlight on the River” sounds like a breakup track. Mac Demarco sings, “I’d say see you later, if I thought I’d see you later… and I’d tell you that I loved you, if I did” with a weariness and dejection that he's almost never shown. A swelling organ accompanies the chorus, which profoundly changes the meaning of the song. Demarco laments, “I’m home, there’s moonlight on the river, everybody dies”.
Although Demarco speaks in aphorisms, the lyrics actually derive from his coming to terms with the impending death of his father, an addict who abandoned him as a child. It becomes apparent that the relationship in question is even more complex than many of romantic nature, and is causing a tipping point in Demarco’s life. After the second chorus, steady guitar arpeggios mark the immovable passage of time while distorted shouting and reverb-drenched noise allows the listener to engage with the pain of Demarco's difficult situation. The solemn and eerie composition distills a months-long emotional passage into seven minutes.