I can’t imagine what it must be like to be anyone other than me. I mean I could and do imagine other people’s lives from time to time but what I mean here is I could never really imagine being someone other than who I am. I’m nice enough most of the time and helpful to a fault, perhaps even too much for my own good. I’m also a cynical asshole at times. Basically I’m as good as I am bad for the most part, which likely means I’m just like everyone else.
What brought this thought on was a lyric from Portland singer/songwriter Meg Baier’s song “Talking In Your Sleep” which goes “I need to separate your decisions from mine / If you wanted to shine then you would shine.” Baier sings these blight filled lines rather nonchalantly as though the person she is talking to is right next to her but she’s not looking at them, she’s looking down at her shoes.
So much of Baier’s latest album Cedar Rose feels that way. The record’s eight songs were written over the course of ten years, which makes me think that there are a lot of different people whose lives intertwined with Baier’s make some sort of appearance here. The second track is called “Ammunition” for gods sakes “hate me for my delusions / break things into one conclusion,” she sings with the same melancholic blankness as before as the keyboards and drums pound in a semi-fury and sound in retrospect downright scary for everyone involved.
It gets even darker later on on the Fleetwood Mac-ish “Frauline” where Baier lets loose about her misconceptions of herself, lamenting “this paper doesn’t like my pen / gonna rip it apart / gonna rip it apart.” She brightens things up on the spritely “Offend Me” that recalls the earlier works of Neko Case and even more so on the ethereal country imbued crooner “Crystal Ball.”
I’ve often alleged in countless reviews that singer/songwriters are a dime a dozen and that for the most part they are largely interchangeable. I still stand by that statement and always will. The reason being is that every once in a while I have to bite my tongue about it and I have to this time after hearing Cedar Rose. Meg Baier’s song lyrics and song craft are not rubber stamps. There is talent here, and it should be heard.
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