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Brian Berger - Still Life With Prudence (2016)

14-01-2016, 17:13
Folk | Rock

Title: Still Life With Prudence
Year Of Release: 2016
Label: Brian Berger
Genre: Folk, Rock, Singer-Songwriter
Quality: Mp3/320
Total Time: 34:49 Min
Total Size: 101 Mb


1. Still Life With Prudence
2. Cult Preaching Grounds
3. Empty Hands, Pt. I
4. Empty Hands, Pt. II (A Song About the Weather)
5. John's Got a Wounded Pride
6. Beautiful and New
7. Five Letters
8. Skinny Legs and All
9. Boots of Spanish Leather
10. Trembling Breaths
11. A Girl Dressed as a Ghost

Brian Berger sits on his front porch and lights a cigarette. Chairs sit empty while he straddles the porch’s railing and fiddles with a lighter. He calls out to a couple passing by, asking if they’re coming from the house show. They reply “no” and he drunkenly tells them to get lost. They laugh at the diss. He laughs. The strangers share a moment bonded together by Brian’s unfair amount of natural charisma, one so strong that people he’s never even met before simply laugh when he says something rude to them. This is the whimsical, happy-go-lucky Brian that he wants people to see him as, and for the most part, he’s been successful at it, but he’d be lying if he told you that was the person he’s been in the past year.
He’s just gotten back from a house show himself. She (yeah, that she) showed up, so he took off. That’s how it’s been going lately, but according to him, that’s why Still Life With Prudence had to be made, “I think once it’s done, I’ll finally be able to have closure on everything, you know? Like I’ll be able to move on, to write happy stupid songs again, to be happy and stupid again,” he says in a text message after sending off another heartbreaking demo to his friend for constructive criticism. But his friend has nothing to critique, instead he makes Brian promise that he’ll do his best to keep the demo’s raw emotion in the final mix. Brian agrees, and lays down crooning background vocals for the end of standout track “Trembling Breaths” that will assuredly haunt the ears of listeners long after the music ends and a conceptual narration begins.
Life wasn’t always this hard; Brian will be the first to tell you that. If it were up to him, cigarettes wouldn’t kill you, drinks would always come cold, and the top drawer of his dresser would be overflowing with an infinite amount of plain white Hanes t-shirts, sized medium, 100% cotton. But unfortunately, sometimes we have to put on a suit over those t-shirts, and sometimes we have to wear that suit to a funeral. Still Life With Prudence walks us through the funeral of Brian’s childhood, one that may be happening prematurely, but he’s hosting nonetheless. Perhaps the cutest part of this album comes in the opening track when Berger claims that the story he’s telling does not contain a hero, villain, plotline, or even an end. Tempted to chalk this lyric up to his trademarked dopey naivety, it’s actually quite evident that this record does in fact contain said story elements, and Brian knows it. Sure, he may be trying to express some humility in not wanting to sound too profound, but he simply has yet to realize he’s one of the few people genuine enough to express such profoundness without coming off as a total hack, which is exactly why you wouldn’t catch that “Boots of Spanish Leather” is a cover if you’d never heard it before.
“Empty Hands” throws the listener straight into the cold, unwelcoming arms of defeat. The anxious desperation, the feeling like all is lost, and the vehement refusal to believe it’s not even when the people closest to you tell you so all spin in circles as one by one, more instrumentation comes in and the mind becomes more and more cloudy. By the closing anthem “The Girl Dressed As A Ghost”, Brian’s childhood and liveliness have been revived, and the funeral is now being held for the love he lost as an uneasy and perhaps never fully understood acceptance is felt.
At its most stripped down, Still Life is about overcoming a lost love. At its most saturated, it’s about finding a way to deal with the pressures of being alive through a rough and trying process of elimination. Throughout the eleven part narrative, Brian explores various mechanisms of coping, ones that we’ve all turned to at a time or another, before realizing that this album itself is the mechanism he truly needs. He discovers the real reason all of the artists he idolizes play such sad songs; not because they want to, but because they absolutely have to. An unmistakable urge for the rambling thoughts and paralyzing feelings they’re able to perceive to be written down and shared takes over any and all sense of keeping a personal story personal. Brian started realizing this on his debut release, an EP he aptly titled Personal Songs for the Impersonal Internet. There, he discovered his voice and understood how he needed to share it. Here, along with a clan of insanely talented friends, he’s brought a walloping fist of emotion to the table that can and will give your heart a black eye and an unmistakable ache of nostalgia and longing for that one girl that got away.

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