Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thank the jesus, Bry Webb is back

For some reason, I've known very few Constantines fans over the last decade-plus, but those known to me have had an intense love affair with the band's music, myself included, and despite the variety of songwriting and genres covered over a span of four albums and a couple of EPs, this small cult of intense fans has loved every song, every word, every style covered. And if you understand the transition from 2001's biting "Some Party" to 2008's "I Will Not Sing a Hateful Song," in which frontman Bry Webb essentially vows not to be the angry, sardonic man he once was, the fan's appreciation of this range is an enormous testament to his songwriting ability and range.

Maybe there is something to the idea that someone who takes up family life gives up his identity as a fighter and becomes a lover in a way that is beyond his control. Maybe settling down merely suppresses the fighter in him until it has reason to re-emerge. Maybe Webb decided to start writing mellower songs because screaming literally pained his throat. Shit hurts. But this range they developed allowed the band to dip their toes into softer methods despite having acquired a vaguely punk identity, and gave them the opportunity to transition from blue-collar punk rock to blue-collar Americana/folk. So it makes perfect sense that what they transitioned to is what Webb is as a solo artist; he's now in his late 30s, he's as grey as his voice, and he sings as a husband and father. The phrases that creak from his mouth are the sounds of honest heart and work, manifesting themselves as poetry. "Positive People" is so incredibly soothing, with no more than a couple fingers on acoustic guitar and a slide in the background: "Strength through boredom/strength through joy/you can't ignore them/you can't avoid positive people."

Webb did a really solid interview with Believer, in which he says, "There’s more anger in me probably now than there ever has been, because I see what kind of world my son is going to be involved in, and that terrifies me in a lot of cases. Toward the end of Provider it turns into that mode. Free Will is even less idealistic." But what he can offer his family is this: "The more fucked up things get/the more I love you."

Purchase Free Will. (It's beautiful. You won't regret it.)

AND. Constantines are doing some reunion shows! Sadly, they're all in Canada.

August 3 – Sackville, NB – SappyFest
August 22 – Peterborough, ON – Market Hall Performing Arts Centre (Peterborough Folk Festival)
August 23 – Ottawa, ON – Waller Park (Arboretum Festival)
August 29 – Toronto, ON – The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre (w/ Arcade Fire)
October 2 – Toronto, ON – The Danforth Music Hall
October 4 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda
October 8 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
October 9 – Calgary, AB – Commonwealth Bar & Stage
October 11 – Edmonton, AB – The Starlite Room (UPDT Festival)

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