Head In The Sand
There’s no right way to capture as complex a feeling as depression on record. Some artists scream about it (see the excellent new PUP record), others construct ambitious rock operas. But it seems the most jarringly relatable albums that tackle the subject feel small, close, quiet. An uneasy personal glimpse into someone else’s darkness can twist your heart. The only thing to untwist it is realizing that someone else feels this, too.
Kate Maki twists and untwists hearts like few others, and Head In The Sand is one of those lonesome, troubled albums that comforts as it unloads its baggage. Recorded and mixed with husband Fred Squire on decades-old equipment that complements the dusty, sparse songwriting, it was mostly written in 2009 “during a tempestuous time,” which seems like an understatement. Even on happier songs there is sadness. Before It Began is a sweet, finger-plucked tune about knowing a passionate relationship won’t last. Similarly pretty, brief songs punctuate the album, a few less compelling than others, like Nobody’s Queen.
The more fleshed-out tracks really drive home Maki’s quiet desolation. This Place is a gorgeous, devastating dirge built on organ and thick electric guitar. Dark Water is a chilly love song about the interconnectedness – for better or worse – of intimate relationships, a type of loneliness difficult to describe. “When I think to myself,” she sings, “no one else knows how it felt, just you.” That isolated closeness is bittersweet – and universal.
As in life, there’s no explicit resolution, but a whole-hearted acceptance of these feelings shines through at the end of the airy Mother Ship, when Maki sings, “The wind will change / the loss, the loss will stay the same.”
Top track: Dark Water
Kate Maki plays the Dakota with Fred Squire on June 11. See listing.