The window to the left mocks my reflection. I look distorted – hazy – like I’m underwater. I’m watching the street – searching perhaps – for any kind of inspiration that might allow my fingers to work in unison with my brain. I’ve got nothing.
Of course the street below is deserted. We just had our first “snow” of the season and in Southern Indiana that means everyone is hunkered safely inside their homes, offering up silent hallelujahs for surviving another half-inch snowmagedon. In the meantime Kroger saw their stock rise.
I tear my eyes from the window and, other than the subtle scent of bergamot and ylang ylang, I notice a snag in the blue and yellow rug that obediently lies underneath of the chair adjacent to my computer desk. I frown, assuming that it’s been there quite a while, I just never noticed, never had to.
The winter has a funny way of doing that to a person though. It can close you in and force you to notice some of the smaller details that surround you every day. Notice in the sense that if you’re not relaxing in front of a crackling fire, bourbon in hand, comfortable in the early hours of chilly evening, then you’re staring absently at the imperfections around you. Because what else is there to do? I’m satisfied to let that question dangle like a participle.
The snow, the season, my lack of inspiration, and that snag are the reasons I tossed on my headphones and sunk into the plushy pop vibes of Matt Pond PA and their album The Dark Leaves – a perfect companion for the wintry weather.
Matt Pond PA is a New York-based band formed in Philadelphia by the band’s eponymous singer-songwriter. Since 1998—and despite a revolving door of members–The band has released eleven LPs and eight EPs.
The Dark Leaves, the eighth studio album released on April 13, 2010, was produced in a cabin in Bearsville, New York and it most certainly envelopes you in a midwinter ambiance. And while the entire album is easy and relatable, the fourth track, “Remains”, is one that ties the whole concept together. A steady drum thud, accompanied by a classic pop beat opens as Pond muses, I can’t remember which movie taught me purpose/ I can’t remember which movie taught me pain.
Whether or not Pond truly is reflective over that nostalgic account or just deadpanning an epilogue to a failed relationship, the line offers us a chance to reminisce on our own emotional excursion. However, the simplicity and beseechingness of those lyrics hold such a monumental weight making it difficult not to rifle through the catalogue of store remembrances and lessons learned.
Was it on Huron when the wind first changed direction?
Was it on Franklin when I lost you on the streets?
All I remember is gray between the cables
Where muted pavement could not give me two feet
The questions (and message) are delivered with a voice so full of heartache and marvel that Pond’s genuineness is beyond accusation. Sonic landscapes that include a steady bass line, cellos, organs, and layered vocals are heard and felt throughout the five and a half minute soundtrack allowing it to stick with you, offering a comforting warmth in a time when it’s hard to come by. In all honesty this song could find you in any other season and you wouldn’t think twice about it. However, during the winter and in a time of reflection – so many questions flitter through my head. I could answer a lot of them with a profound honesty. After all, I have some time. I mean, I could sit at this old oak desk – conjuring and disguising some of my own past measures – temporarily replacing tangible names and places with fictitious, relatable silhouettes.
But I won’t.
The reason, quite simply, is that this is a song that will carve out its own place in your consciousness- sandwich itself between two very familiar places and take on a meaning all its own.
So let it. It’s the perfect time of year for something like that.