I like good lyrics, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t tend to default to lyric-listening. I get distracted by the music. Drawn in and swept away. Even when I start out actively trying to listen to lyrics, I often lose my way. This one, wow, I’ve been listening over and over and I can’t seem to focus on the lyrics for very long at all. He seems to be telling quite a story with that expressive tenor of his—and yes I get the basic gist from the title alone—but there’s something about the music, each time, that pulls me away from the words.
I consider this a good thing. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I think a songwriter has done quite an impressive job if you, as a listener, know that the song works and yet can’t manage quite to follow what he or she is saying. Or okay maybe it’s just me as a listener. But I hear that deep tom-tom, I hear the hushed interplay between rhythm sticks and one-handed piano playing, I hear the always effective alternation of minor and major keys, never mind the thunder and rain (not always effective, but it works here, for me), and the words disintegrate into the song itself. I absorb the portentous atmosphere with no firm idea of what the song is specifically recounting. I consider this a good thing.
Radical Face is the name Ben Cooper has given to his solo recording project. Cooper is otherwise known, to some, as half of the duo Electric President, themselves featured here last February. “The Deserter’s Song” can be found on the EP Touch the Sky, released in November on the Berlin label Morr Music. A previous Radical Face album, Ghost, came out in November 2007. MP3 via Better Propaganda. This one I have known about since its release; it just took a while to grow into something I wanted to feature. Some music works like that. I hope you guys out there don’t always dismiss a new song with too quick a hit of the “next” button. Some songs need a bit of air and space.