Once a female MP attacked Winston Churchill with a comment, "Sir, if I was your wife, I'd poison your tea." Winston smiled and immediately shot back, "Madam, if you were my wife, I'd drink it."
Not sure if poisoned tea resolves anything but the exchange of insults above does remind us of the unfortunate fact that coexisting with the people we are closest to, our family and friends, is sometimes challenging. We tend to forget that the only person we can change is ourselves. And although this is not the only reason why people fight, it seems to be the reason at the root of most disagreements. And it’s exactly this territory, disagreements, the song of the week True Adventures’ ”Down The Line” explores extremely well.
”Down The Line” portrays a couple catching their breath after a fight. As most couples who’ve been together for a while, they are slowly starting to realize that talking seldom resolves anything, especially if you do it "in an empty ring" – without rules or a referee.
I'm fed up of talking
All our words are laying on the floor
We're fighting in an empty ring
Save our souls for life or lore
I love the way that moment we all are very familiar with, the one that comes after every fight (after the dust has settled), has been portrayed in the lyrics.
Your make-up is running
This old empire is in decline
Your make-up is running
From your face and onto mine
These are lines with such strong images that they shake you up slightly when they jump out of your speakers. In fact, they are so intimate, descriptive and intense that it’s almost as if you are present, a fly on the wall, watching this couple attempting to pick up the pieces after they’ve had a blazing row. It’s a situation you know you’ll find yourself many times over the years; yet, you are thankful that right now isn’t one of those times.
The lyrics, however, are not the only thing that's very intimate about "Down The Line". The same could be argued about the arrangement. It's very simple and earthy, yet incredibly tasty. The production carries warmth that is usually absent from modern music – even in the world of indie rock. In fact, the first half of the song features only vocals, electric guitar, slight keyboards and a beat played on the snare rim. This song takes a while to reach its climax because it’s produced in a way where it keeps growing all the while – much like the tension between the couple fighting. As a result, when the tune finally enters its climax and the musical as well as the lyrical tension unfolds, you feel your entire being relaxing. More instruments and fuller drums are brought in and soon, if you are like me, you find yourself smiling as you notice goose bumps on your skin.
To give you an even better understanding of what I'm recommending here, this is a very sixties type of song that loosely resembles one of my favorite Nick Drake tunes called “Parasite” (I’m referring to the style of writing here; not the arrangement, which is obviously drastically different). "Down The Line" is subtle and sensitive music that does not attempt big, modern radio choruses, and this is perhaps, the key to its lure: It is not predictable and repetitious. Rather, this is a song that plays out like a scene from a movie, a scene captured from many different angles not with the help of TV cameras but lyrics. Indeed, we are being served a tasty gourmet dish of artsy pop, the type that would have fitted quite nicely on Drake’s "Bryter Layter" or "Pink Moon." Oh, one more thing, as you’re listening, check out the melody of the chorus/tag (“What are you waiting for before you’re even born?”) and tell me that a certain English rock band led by one Gordon Sumner doesn’t come to mind.
Although the name True Adventures suggests a fully-fledged rock band, what we have here is nevertheless a one-man effort by Norfolk-based guitarist Sam Leonard. In my world at least, this makes “Down The Line” even more impressive. And although Mr. Leonard’s influences shine through rather clearly, the true beauty of his True Adventures is that he has still managed to find a rather unique sound for “Down The Line” and you could say the same thing for his debut single “North Atlantic Ocean,” which is northing short of brilliant with its breathtaking string arrangement and top-notch vocals. And yes, you guessed right, I love the lyrics on that one, too. With lines such as “It's like jumping into icy water, if you don't freeze to death you're going to drown” and “I'm begging all you please don't shoot me but I’d prefer that to being ignored” you realize that you are actually listening to something very special both lyrically and musically and find yourself thinking, “Damn, this kid knows how to write, sing and play.”
To return to the topic of poisoned tea and disagreements, last week, when I was on one of the local trains, coming home from work, I overheard a conversation between an elderly lady and her granddaughter, who was getting married in a few months’ time. They had been shopping for wedding gowns. Excited about the wedding, both of them were in high spirits. Suddenly, the bride-to-be grew slightly solemn, looked at her grandma and asked her, “Grandma, over the years, did you ever want to divorce granddad?” The older woman smiled, took her granddaughter’s hand in hers and answered the question with laughter in her voice, “No. I never even once considered divorcing him. A few times over the years, I did want to kill him though. But divorce him? Never. I’d miss him too much.” Everybody in the coach close enough to hear them started laughing, including me. What a cool way to put it! If that’s not marriage at its best then I don’t know what is.
You can learn more about True Adventures here:
About the curator - Tommi Tikka
Tom Tikka is a linguist, poet, professional songwriter, recording artist and a music aficionado. He started playing guitar when he was four and writing songs when he was six. Consequently, he doesn't remember a time when he wasn't playing or writing. It's fair to say, music and lyrics are not just something he loves to engage himself in; to him, they are a way of life.