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defend the album is a lyrics-first blog by me, bradley fields, about the stories and moments I find in albums that matter to me. Almost always in fewer than 1,000 words.

Johnnyswim's Georgica Pond

A tide sweeps across Georgica Pond. It draws in stories of love, failure, and legacy. It fades out with a cover of Wicked Game you oughta know.

What a bed of thorns it was loving you.

After a 00:23 instrumental welcome comes Hummingbird’s steel flutters. It’s about escaping love that’s too hard, to “feel the rush of another vine,” because not all plants are Venus flytraps.

I was all in before a memory was made.

Summertime Romance has the best ending on the record: a sweeping string outro by Anton Patzner. It’s the story of a hummingbird finding sweet water right away. Amanda and Abner make “a life, a paradise” of a moment by believing now should be always—that their sparks would always become fire.

Backwards in the same direction.

Part misunderstanding, part arguments about the dishes, Villains is about what miscommunication costs relationships. And Amanda’s “Don’t you wanna be my lover?” exit is worth waiting for, like a Marvel post-credit scene.

I won’t be holding my breath for chariots.

The only religion I need’s a human one. Touching Heaven is that hymn. We’re too sacred to live for the afterlife. So, too, says the glorious feature from Houston’s Lakewood Church Choir.

Oh, come visit me often, just whisper my name.

The title track is of family. Of knowing the limits of what you can offer the ones you love. And of needing light yourself, even once free.

Encouragement comes as Let It Matter. (And god, I hope “Know the best way over’s through” is a nod to Finding Nemo.) Quick on its heels is First Try: again two people turning now into forever, but with gospel tones throughout.

Où nous sommes n’on pas d’importance.

In My Arms is American standard-ish, and sounds like how I’d ask someone to come dance with me. It’s followed by Lonely Night in Georgia, where there’s the one who left and the one who’s left behind. It’s my favorite Vince Gill collab since Kelly Clarkson’s Don’t Rush. (Note: A choir and a clap never hurt a goddamn thing.)

I wanna write a song the drunks all sing.

I want to write the song Drunks is about. It’s not just bar fodder; it’s solace on the verge of unexpected triumph (“I wanna learn what David played, when he found himself alone”). I want to sing along in places where songs like that are sung. Loud like we’ve known them forever. Loud like people sang them before us.

My love can’t heal the scars you’ve carved in your own heart.

Say Goodbye Instead is about holding on until the inevitable proves itself. “Next time, I'll heed all your warnings” suggests there’ve been clues, though. Maybe some are the stories in Rescue You. With “You drew me up to your tower,”  it dismisses the allure of fairy tale endings. It’s a reminder not to be the rifle in Lori McKenna’s The Bird & The Rifle, because birds fly away.

Notes

Release date

October 14, 2016

Producer

Abner Ramirez

Writers

Abner Ramirez · Amanda Sudano · Britten Newbill · Chris DeStefano · Chris Isaak · Natalie Hemby · Vince Gill

Keyshia Cole's 11:11 Reset

The Lone Bellow’s Walk Into a Storm