seth bernard – being this being

you’re on your own, little one
you’re only as good as your deed
and you are not to blame for all you’ve heard

i’ve praised the handmade nature of many pieces over time – construction and craft. all are outdone by seth bernard on this release. the cream-coloured cardboard cover is held together having been sewed with red thread at all edges and folded with pouches. when it arrived, it was sealed with a sticker that looks for all the world like it was handwritten, stating made in michigan. that said, it still has space for a barcode on the back.

this was the best find out of the batch of music i bought through cd baby over ten years ago. i honestly never returned to it. and i haven’t listened to this in years, but the songs are recalled so easily and bring joy forgotten. a sure sign there’s quality in them there hills.

that’s kind of a signifier of the sounds themselves. it’s mountain music – folk stories and traditional instruments (with a few bits of technology scattered in). its homeland is a little far from the appalachians, but it’s definitely small town rural america surrounded by forested hills and speaking/hearing of its place. some are slow, some are more energetic (including the brilliant rapid acoustic guitar solo on song of the chipping sparrow).

it starts a little plugged in – with a lumbering bass line that fills the spaces, and acoustic guitar with seth’s slightly strained voice and harmonies of may erlewine – on sassafras. it is the most memorable song here, and that’s saying something, given the imprinted quality of all of them.

it’s not only the beautifully rustic and warm sounds on this album that make me love it, but also some of the philosophical concepts it explores. the eponymous song is one such, and repeats a refrain of being this being this being this being this being. its sounds belong in an audio archive, or are learnt from some place like that. and aforementioned song of the chipping sparrow concludes that guilt doesn’t cultivate ecstatic love.

if it was easy to find music that was this instantly connective and satisfying, my collection would be at least ten times its size. maybe that makes me appreciate these gems all the more.

i have no one to lift me up
don’t know how to share my load
i have no lover to ease my mind
so i love the road


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