The Rough & Tumble
Only This Far
Today marks the drop of our first single, "Ain't That the Way" from our upcoming May 12th album release, Only This Far.
We're, as always, excited and nervous about this record. After 12 years as a band, releasing an EP or LP a year (excepting one) for each, you'd think we'd be used to it. And in some ways, we are. We have a better idea for the unveiling, the slow leak, the single drops. We have our standard operation for getting the artwork together, fitting it to templates, and sending it off to get printed and pressed. We add on each time the number of people helping us, as we can afford to do so and feel comfortable relinquishing that control. By this time, it should be old hat. But it isn't. For all the work and pain-in-the-ass life disrupter it is, we still keep doing it. Because there is nothing quite like a collection of songs we've written and arranged and recorded being tied up under a seemingly random larger heading AKA album title, then being tossed out into the world to be listened to, reinterpreted, sung along to, and appreciated (or hated) by other people-- for better or worse.
Each album title comes to us differently-- whether while cleaning a mirror and thinking about those dark memories from childhood and how to push forward (We're Only Family If You Say So) or while eating pizza and watching a movie while housesitting (throwback here to our first EP, We Sing in Your House When You're Not There... We Even Ordered Pizza). We try hard to let each be its own thing, to not compare, to let the record itself speak up and tell us what the theme is-- what its name is. The upcoming, Only This Far, had a few iterations before it landed here. Here. Wherever here is. On this vague and wide stretch of short words.
Coming on the heels of We're Only Family If You Say So, our last full length album, it was hard not to compare. That record saw us through some serious heartache. Each song dug deeper than the one before, reckoning with our identities, our deepest held beliefs, and our most pushed down anger. That record has SEEN some things, boy howdy. But Only This Far? Not so much. We've been trying to narrow it down to easy blurbs as we built up our press kit.
It's a record about acceptance.
It's a record about forgiveness.
I mean, yeah, that too. Especially in comparison to the last.
It's a record about the culmination of steps it takes to be standing on a wide plain of your life with hillsides and mountains and valleys behind and a few steps in front of you before it gets real foggy and you're just not sure how to take the next step but you sure are grateful for where you've come this far, so you may as well keep on going with assurance that it is going to be what it's going to be.
That's a little closer, but our PR guy wasn't impressed with it as a tight pitch. Fair point.
I (Mallory) am reading a book right now called The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker. In it, he gives 131 different mind exercises or active creative exercises that allow you to take the mundane and to really notice them. Like taking a walk and noticing the colors you see along the way. Or taking note of how many security cameras you see on your commute to work. Or finding the many contrasts that exist right there in your living room (rough vs smooth, bright vs dull, clean vs dirty). You can read the book any way you choose-- diligently pursuing each exercise with pen and paper or tucking it in the back of your mind as a consciousness to help you appreciate the daily art of living. I've leaned toward the latter. Luckily, this book doesn't give you a list to complete or a true exercise to pursue. My brain is geared toward task completion, and I don't need another way to find out I'm behind, or how I can do better.
So instead, during our daily walks, or during the long drive down to Florida, I've taken note when I've taken note. It's a little relaxing, and gives me a break from needing to check my phone or finish that one more thing I'm supposed to. I'm not walking around with a pen and paper. I'm just letting the number of red doors on the front of houses tally themselves-- notice them when I pass, and let them go.
That, I think, is this new record. It isn't transient, but it is passing. It's not without hard work, but it is at ease. It's timeless, but it also is a very specific snapshot of time. Particularly, the last year, as we transitioned from living full time on the road, to finding a stable without-wheels home. From cold silence from my family, to a narrow crevice that a tiny tributary of water slides through. From being carried to mutually carrying the ones I love. Yes, even you, you rotting lettuce in the bottom of the refrigerator-- even you we noticed. It's an important record, and not so important at all.
Maybe that explains nothing. I'm pretty sure that's the case. But it doesn't change our enthusiasm. As I mentioned at the top, we've dropped our first single from it, and I think it's a good introduction. It's a song all about showing up, even if you don't have your act together-- if even its not all perfect-- and doing what you can, anyway. And it's also a little bit a lot about doing your part, and leaving the rest up to whatever happens. And accepting it.
Below is the video for it, filmed in our brand new little community of Haverhill, NH with 80 near-strangers who decided to show up for us without knowing us at all. We feel really lucky it turned out this way, and we owe it all to their energy, joy, and just plain showing up. And a thanks to Alumni Hall, Byron & Laurel Berwick, and Elias Gillen Media for giving us the spaces and talent to pull it off.