So immediate is this song’s command that it feels familiar and fresh simultaneously, right from the opening bars.
Launched off a sneaky, descending riff, “How To Be Kind” exploits the underutilized tool of the interrupted verse. Check it out: the first verse begins with an amiable echo of the intro’s riff, and proceeds melodically through a standard four measures. At 0:24-0:25, the vocals resolve the first section and launch directly into what sounds like a repeat trip through the same melody with new lyrics—standard operating procedure in a rock song, or pretty much any song for that matter.
Only here, after two measures, the verse melody is interrupted (0:29) as we transition without fuss into what appears, upon reflection, to be the chorus, although when you first hear it it sounds like an intriguing augmentation to the verse. And here is where “How To Be Kind”‘s low-key Wilco-ness turns up a notch. Front man Colin Halliburton doesn’t sound like Jeff Tweedy per se but projects a charming Tweedy-like aura as the song ambles its way along, all soft piano fills and drumming that finds an edge between gentle and bashy.
In the end, that edge speaks for the song as a whole, as it achieves through vibe and craft an appealing balance between geniality and purpose. It was, again, Wilco that most notably pioneered the use of the language of Americana to transcend the genre. These guys aren’t going that far, necessarily, and there’s no saying that they have to or need to. But I am feeling something of that nonchalant vigor in the air, of music with a depth that belies its laid-back surface.
The Roseline is a five-man band from Kansas. “How To Be Kind” is a song from their fifth album, entitled Blood, which is coming out in this week.
photo credit: Stevie Jackson