The other day a curious co-worker of mine who I speak with rather infrequently asked me what I do when I’m not at work. I was getting ready to leave when he asked, I was putting on my sweater and packing up my bag, and perhaps it was for that reason that I was so forthcoming with my personal life.
I told him I read a lot and that I write fiction and non-fiction, “about music” I added. Then I said I sometimes thought of going back to school to get an MFA but that I knew it was a waste of money because I think writing can’t be taught. Then he said yeah you look like a guy who reads a lot of books, and then there was an awkward pause and I then I just walked out the door. Later as I was on the train intimately sardined into a car I looked around at my fellow riders and began to wonder about them, about what they did after a long day of working in a cubicle or behind a counter or in a hot kitchen. Were they doing what they wanted to be doing?
I was reminded of this sense of intimacy and doing what one wants or thinks one should be doing with one’s life as I listened to singer songwriter Alice Limoges debut record, The Space Between. Limoges said of the making of The Space Between “It felt like all I managed to do the year I made it was drag myself to the studio and make this happen.” This deep sense of sentiment and honesty bleeds from this album almost profusely. But Limoges never sounds like she wants anything from the listener. She is not in search of sympathy, nor empathy, rather her words are like stones picked up randomly and skipped out into the water. She is dealing with her demons and has invited us to listen in, but expects none of us to weigh in.
The Space Between opens with the cloudy, lo-fi acoustic vibrato of “Your Skin on my Sheets,” a beautifully intimate opener which sets the tone for the record and leads into the sparse piano and eclectic scrapes of sound on the cold and heartfealt, “Save My Soul.” The lyrics here are beautifully wrought too, “I don’t think you understand/I live by the second hand,” she delivers with an offhanded beauty. The rippling and slow rolling piano, ala Fiona Apple continues on the heartbreakingly stark “Dog Is Barking.”
Another beautiful caveat about Alice Limoges is that she is not only the keeper of her own sorrows but also of others. On “Red Cigar” she stunningly channels her perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement, and beautifully paints the picture of Syrian friend of hers on the tear jerking “Aleppo,” intoning “the days are as black as the night.”
The Space Between is a remarkable record. Its novelistic in scope and carries a sense of melancholy, but also of hope. In short it’s not depressing for the sake of being depressing, in fact it’s not depressing at all. It’s a record that at its core is what all great works of art have, heart and soul.
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