We are hauntingly morbid creatures, we humans. We mask it well. We’re particularly adept at convincing everyone around us that our inner Darth Vaders, those devilish souls lurking in the darkened crevasses of the mind don’t exist at all. We shower our friends and neighbors with cheerful pomp, gregarious smiles, brisk and firm handshakes. We punctuate them with confident and direct eye-contact. Everything is great. Life is wonderful.
We’re fooling ourselves of course. Worse yet, we’re convinced that some kind of admission of that inner darkness, direct or tacit, implicitly means that we’re off our nut. So we lie. When we’re cruising down the highway, and that weird image—the one where we yank the steering wheel hard to the left and release all the chaos in the world—flutters through our brains, we shudder and dismiss the thought. But the thought happened. For all the grandiose trappings we’ve created to celebrate our existence as the most cognitively advanced species on the planet, we remain, at the core of our DNA, carbon-based mammals, the products of upright beasts who somehow learned to sew, cook their food, and create moral codes.
Rather than run from it, Black Market Vinyl’s new record—the band’s first full-length album—dubbed Preacher’s Son, embraces the cosmically human notion that we should welcome those demons which swim about inside us.
Anchored by the triumvirate vocals of Matt Rees, his daughter Wednesday, and guitarist Joel Ruff, Preacher’s Son grabs us the minute we hit “play.” The record’s lead track, “Black Angel,” launches into the 1950’s-esque, rockabilly sound that largely dominates the album. Recorded in a minimalist style, using a handful of microphones in a “live” setting (emulating the work of greats such as C.W. Stoneking), the album’s mostly upbeat groove, sharp guitar solos, and peppy spirit almost lures us into a state of innocence which defined the early days of rock-and-roll, even if most of what the band sings about is murder, death, darkness, and mayhem.
It’s an intentionally deceptive maneuver, but it’s also symbolically fitting one as well. The products of deeply religious upbringings themselves (Ruff growing up overseas as the son of missionary parents), the members of Black Market Vinyl appreciate the tightrope dichotomy we all walk when we hide our eyes from the coldness of the world surrounding us.
The first three songs introduce us to the full complement of the band’s vocal range. Rees opens the lead track in snappy fashion subtlety hiding his speaker’s sorrow (“The trouble is I’ve been living for way too long”) under the sort of youthful rhythm we would gladly dance to. Daughter Wednesday reminds us that much of the world mixes familial love with awful violence in “Murderer’s Home,” and Ruff caps the record’s opening hat-trick with a tribute to “Vengeance” offered up as a happy “Stray Cat Strut” sort of groove.
From the album’s title track—embedded midway through the album—to the record’s most telling tune, “Monster” (the worst beasts in the world are ourselves), Preacher’s Son provides one of the most compelling metaphors for the human experience yet. We are an unkind, hedonistic, and impulsive breed. We do awful things to each other, but we do our worst when we lie to ourselves about it. We do, however, hide it beautifully. Often, we do it so well we even have a great time in the process. What better way to present the human condition than to do so in a manner that leaves us sitting by the bar snapping our fingers and tapping our feet. Even when the show is over, when we’re gleefully humming melodies as we walk out to our cars and drive ourselves, we’re so lulled by the music we’re oblivious the monsters which await us when we return to daily grind that creates them.
“Preacher’s Son” by Black Market Vinyl