CHRISTOPHER PAUL STELLING – ” Oh River “

Posted: May 20, 2017 in MUSIC
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Itinerant Arias finds Stelling backed by a band, electrified if you will. It is a record inspired by movement and travel. The album cover a photograph taken by Stelling himself depicting an arrangement of found objects on his table. With a little more than a week before returning to the road, he retreated to a friend’s Connecticut cabin out in the woods with some musician friends. They slept there, ate there and didn’t leave for the next eight days, recording the haunting and powerful record.

“We would wake up in the morning, make coffee and record. The idea was just to live together, eat together and make this record. Having been alone and on the road, it was great to make a home with these musicians for those eight days. These songs were minimally demoed, arranged on the spot and recorded together live.

The album begins with the bittersweet ode to battered perseverance in “Destitute. As Stelling explains, “We begin at rock bottom. When all the layers of self pity are pealed away and all we have left to do is remind ourselves that it gets better from here. It’s a song about putting one foot in front of the other, about looking up. A nice place to start.”

Later Stelling addresses the plight of the refugee with the lilting and soulful“Sleep Baby Sleep.” He explains, “I became aware of the Syrian refugee crisis first hand a couple years back when crossing the English channel from Calais to Dover. Seeing the camps, driving right past them, looking at me from behind the fences, desperate to find a home… and me able to pass, with the right passport, the right nationality, the right look made me feel ill. I’ve gotten to know some wonderful displaced Syrians in my travels and they are some of the dearest people I’ve met.  This is a song for them.”

The politically charged appropriately raucous “BadGuys” rages righteously against the ones who create turmoil, “Those nightmares creep into your reality,” Stelling says. “You’re reading about them in the papers. Who are these monsters and where do they come from? They’re just terrified little children hell bent on destroying the world, but you and your people got some home-made and there’s a second line coming down the street, everyones faces painted up like skeletons and you join in, because fuck it.”

The record ends with the intimate acknowledgement of life’s unavoidable uncertainty featuring Stelling’s melodic guitar picking backed by strings and a moving vocal chorus on  “A Tempest.” “If we go, we’ll go together. To think of life as many voyages that tumble into one. Each new journey informing the next, but there’s always surprises and beautiful distractions along the way. We are on a ship out at sea, unsure if we are on our way back home or leaving for good. Who knows where we are headed?  Nobody.  So enjoy it.”

“Oh, River” (Live at Echo Mountain) by Christopher Paul Stelling from the album ‘Itinerant Arias,’ available May 5th

Julia Christgau – vox and percussion
Kieran Ledwidge – Violin
Matthew Murphy – Bass

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