Thursday, May 10, 2012

daily discovery: where i review honeycomb tombs by karla adolphe

NEW: music video for "Flying Low"

Intrigued from the moment that I first heard about Honeycomb Tombs via Facebook and some Calgary-friends, I had to get involved.

"About a year ago Karla was privileged to be at the hospital when a dear family said goodbye to their daughter. In the midst of that beautiful and heart-wrenching day Karla witnessed music play an important role in the early stages of grief.

The goal of this project is to create a
FREE digital album that walks alongside those in the midst of grief; a collection of music, spaces, poetry and stories that can be played while you journal, take a drive, cry or nap. This album will be completely listener funded and available for free digital download. What that means is Karla will not recoup any of her $9800 budget with cd sales. The goal is to raise at least $7500 by April 1, 2012 to cover the costs of recording, producing, mixing and mastering and marketing the album."

There are so few avenues for expressing emotion in our daily lives, and nowhere is this more true than for those dealing with grief. I once saw a movie depicting an Indian funeral and I marveled at their public grieving. Shocked by such expressive freedom,  I began to long for such a moment in my own life. I pictured myself there, my sister's body wreathed in flowers, being carried through the streets, while we followed wailing, some of us falling and being carried to the place of burial.

And yet, I never experienced such uncensored pain. I did not cry publicly, I was gracious towards those offering condolences and I tried, in small ways, to be a support to my family. We had a deli spread in the church basement and people wept quiet tears and hugged (while they apologized for those tears). There was nothing wrong with it, it was completely normal. But I want, no need, more. 

I am not a musician, but I have had music in me for as long as I can remember. It opens me up like nothing else can; I believe in its power to communicate beyond differences in language, intellect, and experience. Music can be something different to each person who hears it, and in doing so, it meets each of us exactly where we are. 

Honeycomb Tombs is a mellow and contemplative collection of songs. Though never stagnant or repetitious, the tone, something I can only describe as gentle strength, winds its way throughout. The first song leads you to the next, your experience growing richer and deeper as you wade in, though any one song has a magic the one previous did not. Musically this album falls somewhere between folk and lullaby, while lyrically it acts as "a surge of the heart; ...a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy." 

It is such a joy to hear lyrics that echo your own journal entries, as someone else asks the same questions: of God, yourself and of those who left you behind. In her first single, Flying Low, the lines build to crescendo,  "I know I'm alive, raised from the dead inside", and as powerful as waves of grief crashing down, Karla's vocals swell from contemplative-quiet to reaching, insisting, claiming "I know I'm alive"! These lines resonate as an inner dialogue of survival and of hope. Graceland and Graveyards is sweetly melancholic and utterly compassionate. My thoughts almost word for word, "This is a lonely crowd of people I'm in, this is another bad day slowly setting in." The song speaks the beautiful, painful truth,"You refuse to be erased."

In Invisible Lines, Karla writes "Our hearts broke at the same time, torn along invisible lines. Mine was still beating, yours said goodnight, our hearts broke at the same time." Beautiful. Who can Hold Me? asks the giant question and suggests an answer for those living in moments where "This freezing rain, this stinging pain, it's what is getting me through".  

When I see Him has one of my favourite lines of the whole album, "Even if I don't come back darling, its alright." And even though nothing feels alright when someone has died, if my sister had said that, I just might have believed her. Room For Me is a surprising and triumphant burst, beginning with a soul questioning their place, worth and belonging. This soul is answered in no uncertain terms with the joyful trumpets of Swing Lo Sweet Chariot, a gorgeous and nostalgic refrain making me long for the days of childhood faith.

There is room for me, for you, in His chariot, in His arms.

Free download of Honeycomb Tombs, the new album from the Canadian musician Karla Adolphe, available MAY 15.


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