The National Lights - The Dead Will Walk, Dear
Record Label: Bloodshake Records
Release Date: February 27, 2007
I don't think I've ever heard anything quite like The Dead Will Walk, Dear. Well, let me elaborate - musically, The National Lights is a simple, even unchallenging prospect. You've heard it before, hooky acoustic strums with accents of piano. Throw in some male/female vocal harmonizing and you've got a recipe for success. But there's a problem - it's been done before. Millions of times. So what makes The National Lights the sore thumb of the acoustic genre?
Well, it's their lyrics. The slow, beautiful, heartfelt music is merely a vessel for what is surely one of the darkest stories ever told in music - a disturbing tale of rape ("Better For It, Kid," "Mess Around) and murder ("Riverbed," "Swimming In The Swamp") in a small town. It's this wonderful dichotomy between the ugliest of stories and the prettiest of music that makes The Dead Will Walk, Dear an album that demands all of your attention.
"Better For It, Kid," the album's opener, lets you know what you're in for right from the get go. Trying to look for a metaphor in "Let me cover you up, in my buttoned flannel shirt / Your skin's so cold without a skirt on / And catch the blood before it falls / 'cause it'll dirty up your feet / And don't make me sorry, 'cause in my heart, I meant no harm" is futile - lyricist Jacob Berns means every word to be taken literally. What's possibly the most endearing aspect of the record is the perspective - as you've probably noticed, it's written in first person from the killer's point of view. Through this omniscient point of view, we get to see into the killer's mind. We think his thoughts, we feel his feelings, we sing along to the words that he speaks, no matter how dark they may be.
It seems like the next song, "Mess Around," takes the listener back in time to when the killer first met his victim, simultaneously rationalizing to both himself and to her that despite her young age, it's okay if they "mess around." The rest of the album is more or less, more of the same, lyrically and musically. Noteworthy songs include "Riverbed," where the main character's victim seems to haunt him from beyond the grave, and for the first time he goes against his mindset in "Better For It, Kid" to take on an apologetic tone. Another highlight is "The Water Is Wide," the centerpiece of which is the bone-chilling line, "And if you ask real nice, well I just might save your life."
All in all, The Dead Will Walk, Dear is like The Silence Of The Lambs. On the surface, there's shock value aplenty and it might put you off, but digging deeper, you'll find a story. A dark story, yes, but an enthralling one. The Dead Will Walk, Dear is one record that you shouldn't let slip under your radar.