Shelley, Joan - The spur CD
I want to explain these songs / I want to leave them unexplained.
We’ve all been working with a lot of silence.
I was tired from touring, remembering the long drives across the midwestern plains at dusk, against the pale yellow sky seeing the black outline of the horizon with the occasional silhouette of a little farmstead, a corn crib or windmill, beyond, a breaking society, beyond, the aches of a world in pain.
A powerful tugging between apparently opposite things, hopelessness and resilience, isolation and togetherness, all at once.
A deep connection to our homeplace, to staying, a complex reckoning with family, with the past, with the rubble, with the wind taken out of everyone’s sails, with new life and constant death.
We returned to the feral tree farm.
Raising goats, chickens, listening to birds, watching the river, growing a child.
A deep clean spring.
So I started reaching out. Bringing in.
I wanted these people I admire to be close to me in the game, in the tangle of my emotions, in my unaddressed fears, I wanted them woven into my tapestries, which are songs, because I am only a bird on a branch echoing others, embellishing the present with past inventions.
Let the new world come around.
Together we shook these things out of the rug, our shared anxieties, our guilt, our joy, discomfort and heartbreak. We asked and were asking of each other.
Dying breath, wind-breath, singing breath shared beyond the language song, strings and brass, heartbeats and drums, wooden and stone breath, water and light, non-human breath, written breath, the little breaths of a newborn thing.
Now I sing some of these songs to my daughter. Soothing her discomforts. Especially “completely,” she likes to hear that one. How it goes from low to high.
How it goes from song into silence, and back again.
Do you know that line of Wendell Berry’s “make a poem that does not disturb the silence from which it came”?
Produced by James Ekington. Recorded and mixed by Zak Riles at Earthwave Studio, Shelbyville, Kentucky.
All songs by Joan Shelley with additional lyric contributions from Bill Callahan ("Amberlit Morning"), Katie Peabody ("The Spur"), Max Porter ("Breath For The Boy")
Joan Shelley - vocals, acoustic and resonator guitars, piano
Nathan Salsburg - acoustic and electric guitars
James Elkington - drums, keyboards, dobro, mandola, bass, recorder, percussions
Meg Baird - vocals (1, 11)
Bill Callahan - vocals (4)
Anna Jacobson - brass (5, 6, 10)
Sean Johnson - drums (12)
Lia Kohl - cello (1, 6)
Nick Macri - upright bass (1, 7, 12)
Spencer Tweedy - drums (5, 10)
1. Forever Blues
2. The Spur
4. Amberlit Morning
5. Like The Thunder
6. When The Light Is Dying
7. Breath For The Boy
9. Why Not Live Here
11. Between Rock & Sky