TRACKS by Lindsay White
As soon as I read somewhere some of the true story behind “25 Million People” I realized knowing these actual details shouldn’t be necessary to developing an affection for this album, Tracks. Let’s face it, a meet-and-greet with all the people necessary to build even a modicum of financial comfort as a musician isn’t happening. It’s fortunate, then, Lindsay has had her say in a series of songs that seems like their playing was the only relief in living through their inspiration.
Each listener’s experience creates a third piece of art, crafted by its understanding. In the sound department, the album delivers variety (between and within songs) from lounge to roots to blues rock to lullaby, but if you are a lyrics person you will be rewarded.
“25 Million People” evokes a shared house overrun by people who come and go at all hours, like when a home becomes a hook-up place for drugs. The house is the mind, the reaction to the personal laid beside the bustling cares of the public, and the singer feels as though the house is a bit empty of herself. It’s a place devoid of reflection, a performance without a monitor, without feedback, all the shy pain and self-doubt and the flinching in case of rejection, as though the person’s empathy is too overwhelming to bear before unreceptive people.
It’s never much to ask others to feel your pain unless you can make their own pain less lonely. It becomes an out to self-destructive, self-judgmental barbs, fights past the fighting, and soon your belief in seeing the beauty behind everything suggests an artistic therapy that requires all nerve possible to offer commercially.
But you press on.
Record snips of your music on your phone to share with people close to you. Sit through a smoky bar somewhere and contemplate the whole sorry thing, and convey it in the delivery of teary, woeful songs like “Wall of Feather,” then produce it (as does Alex Zander here) so as to raise one’s dignity with the nobility of the love fallen prey. Add fear of death and wasting one’s life to the compassionate observer in “Chasing A Lie” and find that empathy lifting the melody into a major key.
The fret board’s a haven for working out confidence issues, in addition to moving pain from your heart to your fingertips. “Once they’re there, then they’re every where” she sings of the bugabear thoughts; intentions make all the difference. The album becomes a listenable respite, lit with awareness of danger of life off the tracks, the need to lay tracks towards a destination, the desire to make tracks from a train wreck already on the books.
The ghost of common hopes have a voice, for what lovers wish and dream to understand what’s here denied. Good nature and the salvation of art are what converts this singer and songs into a welcome friend one plays over and over.
The personal therapy that serves as the grist for White’s songs is delivered in catchy tunes and hook driven styles, as though she understands it is a rare person who really wants to listen to your troubles very long. Not only will the world laugh with you, they will charge you are a crybaby! How does a feeling person reply when one’s life is reduced to melodrama? Perhaps, by hearing melodies of the life within that drama, some prayer of salvation ---to something---can be launched, as in the bluesy rocker “Get Me Through This.” Here, for all her pretty, even demure voice, she asserts a grittier side, a reminder she is no lady to be messed with. She’s turned misfortune into as many good jokes as she can, but don’t mistake her for stoic---not her musical self, at any rate.
“Disappearing Act” playfully builds up the tension for the “Poof! You were gone” and rings the legerdemain metaphor for every line, even sporting a pun (“You were a (hairy) Harry Houdini”). Alex Zander’s guitar work is a good fit, adding mood and texture throughout the record.
It is damaging to compare most anyone to the legend of predecessors like Joni Mitchell, Grace Slick, or Bob Dylan, but laid song beside song this newer work stands strong. This personal memoir doesn’t serve the topical side, but rather reminds one more of Blonde On Blonde Dylan as he passed out of his political protestor phase, writing catchy rubberneck tours about why relationships don’t survive, though these are not colored with the oblique personas that randomly populate Dylan’s songs, but follow the confessional aspect of more contemporary tunesmiths like Alanis or Jewel. White is concerned with clarity, even when dressing the lyrics smartly in metaphors to roll out the idea, such as the risky liason in “Rapunzel.” The naked, spry sylph of “My Recipe” best addresses the neurotic circumstances that defy her best efforts; yet what she’s cooking has bitter spices, balanced with the shuffle and steel guitar that brings a moment of Nashville to fill the air of the kitchen of her devising.
Made up, these stories would be good ones to tell, yet the confessional power of the delivery suggests White is aiming for realness---perhaps in response to unsettled expectations, truths and wishes and primal screams swallowed up by delusions, fakeness. “Fancy Shoes” is the most Dylan-like in its delivery---but again, we’ve run into the problem of writing about music, instead of simply listening, which I would advise here for yourself.
There’s a hint of carrying on to a better day, a knowledge that the old wisdom, however ignored, is still a fresh inspiration. One imagines these songs will be performed to help the writer work out the circumscribed issues as well to entertain. Perhaps the happy, creative moments like “Owl Song” (“happy the ‘who’ is you”) offer the respite that comes with finding similar spirits to keep the faith. If this relief seems hard to find, if your pain is similar, you may find it eloquent. It is a step towards another incarnation, made self-reliant by getting through this. Only a career full of listeners (and possibly, buyers) will tell.
“25 million people” can’t be wrong.