“American Bardo” is an ode to George Saunders’ exquisite novel, “Lincoln In The Bardo,” the Mann Booker Prize-winning novel about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his young son WIllie.
I reviewed one of the tracks on the album last year, released as a single, “Matterbloomlight,” a gorgeous and haunting song.
This album is much more of the same. Echoing remembrances, deeply felt and beautifully wrought. It’s a gorgeous mix of americana, folk, soulful rock and something more, something hard to define musically. But whatever you might call it, the effects of this brilliant, gorgeously and subtly produced music is profound.
The stories in the songs are built around the book, it seems as if the history of Lincoln and the death of his son had a big impact on Anders and O’Bitz. As parents, the real understanding that at any moment you might lose a child is a terrifying thing. My children are grown and I still wake up in a cold sweat some nights. This music, with all its cinematic weavings and pining chords takes that emotion to a truly intense level, while still leaving a space for hope and love and a sense of some kind of closure or release.
It’s a healing sound, although mournful. Like a prayer, or a choral piece or the sound of a sunset. Death is inevitable, sadness consequential and forever. But can sounds heal us, or reconnect us to who we were before the loss? Perhaps, when done right and when we are ready to feel something other than emptiness. How interesting that they chose now to release this album, when we are in the middle of this pandemic, not yet ready ourselves for our collective mourning. When there are so many more yet to come to be mourned. Are we numb? I know I am. But sometime soon we are all going to have our individual reckonings and poetry, art and above all music will be what we undoubtably turn to.
“American Bardo” is an exquisite album. Reminiscent of REM or Neil Young, these two phenomenal musicians give us a record to open our hearts to, when all else seems so lost and we need to feel again. Loved it.
Members/Instruments: Eric Anders – Vocals, Mark O’Bitz – Backing Vocals, Guitars, Keys