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I can’t get enough of this somber, melancholy song from Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan called, “Then Go.”

Some may find the dreary nature of the song off-putting musically and stylistically, but it’s the tone I gravitate toward in my music. There’s something very real, very honest and very affecting about such music. Primarily, I believe it’s the vocals that do it for me. Hannigan’s voice in this is haunting, absolutely haunting. She reminds me of a female version of Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead.

For instance, listen to Radiohead’s, “Lucky.” I just chose a song at random, but really, much of their music would qualify:

There’s a phrase I keep thinking of in relation to any type of artistic expression: bleeding. Writing is bleeding. Singing is also bleeding. And man, isn’t that how Hannigan and Yorke sound like? Lest I forget Damien Rice; he’s right there. They sound like someone they loved wedged a knife between the left and right ventricles of their heart and now they’re stumbling around, stunned, seeing the blood drip from the wound and they’re lamenting the pain they feel; that’s what it’s like listening to them for me – very visceral and tangible.

Now, take that palpable quality, add soul to it and you get perhaps my favorite vocalist in music, Ray LaMontagne:

That’s his song, “All the Wild Horses.” His voice almost seems to plead with you to understand his pain, but dichotomously, there’s a detachment wherein he’s numb; he doesn’t care if you care. This is his pain and he’s just going to express it. Such simplicity, such minimalism and such grittiness appeals to me.

But of course, there’s still something to be said about the lyrics, which help to inform the vocals. “Then Go” in particular sounds like the quintessential unrequited love song. The person in question is giving everything to the other, but they seem bored and uninterested. “You stick your probe in further, but you’re still not pleased.” Such a lyric could be interpreted a number of ways, but what I take it to mean is that she/he is undeniably in love with this person and continues to fall for them, even though they’re receiving nothing in response.

I like writers and singers that bleed onto the book, the screen, the stage, whatever the platform is, but it’s more than that; they’re courageous enough, bold enough, maybe hurt enough, to leak a little bit of their soul to the rest of us. There’s something beautifully macabre about that.

Ray

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