This album is not about a war. It is about War. This is what War does to some of us. Bringing fear. Bringing dread. Forecasting doom, all while life goes on. This is, for Stace-James,the real music of War--- not Over There or I'll Be Home For Christmas or even Der Fuehrer's Face. These songs are black clouds over humanity. It is, after all, War.
I hesitate to call them vignettes. Vignette connotes more of a light-heartedness and sometimes even vaudevillian attitude. These are hardly that. They are compositions, as rooted in drama and reality as they are in music and fantasy. The Voice was once a person--- someone's son, maybe someone's brother or sister. He is a ghost, a spokesman from the past, though then barely a man. "Sixteen and a half years old..."
Stace-James can write songs, yes. His last album, self-titled, proved that, but this album is not just about songs. It is about War. The last song is a song, a very pretty folk ballad of sorts, but a prelude to end. When the bugle blows taps and the ambient sounds of birds take over, War is over. But not really. As Stace-James writes in the booklet which accompanies the album, "How do I write about the end of war? Does war ever really end?"
This is one of those albums which words will never quite be able to describe. I have listened to it numerous times and still have the same reverence and confusion. It is magnificent. It is whole. Yet it leaves so many questions unanswered. I keep hoping that maybe, at the end of one of those hearings, the answer will appear. I know it won't, but I hope anyway.
And, no, this is not just about The Civil War, though Stace-James drew much of his inspiration from it. It is about War. Something we all need to know more about if only to prevent the next one.
Frank O. Gutch Jr.
(Frank Gutch Jr. writes and has written for numerous magazines and websites, presently including this blog, his own website and the prestigious Don't Believe A Word I Say site put together by musician and music pundit Bob Segarini, out of Toronto. He specializes in the Indies, having fought hand-to-hand combat with major record labels for decades (talk about zombies). He believes music should be the core of the music business, though business it mostly be, and denies the accepted reality in the stead of the artistic one. Seldom does he receive pay for articles and/or reviews and believes that there is no place for negatives in a world in which one cannot keep up with the positives. He is, in a sense, a lost soul in a sea of music, drowning, but drowning gratefully.)