AMERICAN AQUARIUM – ” Chicamacomico “

Posted: December 28, 2022 in MUSIC

“Chicamacomico” is the name of a decommissioned life-saving station off North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It now also serves as the title of American Aquarium’s latest album, a serious and significant work from the band on which Barham’s lyrical turns are given more prominence than ever before. 

“Chicamacomico” is a record about loss. Over a six-month span at the end of 2019/beginning of 2020, I lost my grandmother, my mother and watched as the world fell into a 2+ year pandemic that decimated businesses, relationships and dreams. This is a record about dealing with those losses. My hope is these songs serve a salve for anyone else experiencing loss. A reminder that you are not the only one that lost a friend this year, or a parent, or a loved one. There’s a special kind of hope that comes from that realisation. I am not alone. I wrote this record in the February 2020 on the northern coast of Hatteras Island in a small beach town called Rodanthe.

In the summer, this area is an extremely popular vacation destination packed with tourists, but in the winter, it was a desolate ghost town. The perfect backdrop for the record I was trying to write. Over the course of two weeks these songs would take shape and come to life, and it quickly became obvious that the overall theme would be dark. During my stay I realised that the town used to be named “Chicamacomico” until the locals changed it in the name of ease and progress. In that moment, I knew I had the name of my record.

We enlisted Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Nathaniel Ratliffe, Waxahatchee) to produce the record and traveled to Sonic Ranch, a world-renowned recording complex tucked in the middle of a 1,700-acre pecan orchard, in the Texas border town of Tornillo. Over the course of ten days, we watched these songs go from simple folk rumination into fully formed band arrangements. In my sixteen-year career I have never been prouder of a set of songs, lyrically or stylistically. The songs have weight, but they aren’t weighed down. It’s a sad record, that makes you feel good. It’s a culmination of nearly two decades of work.

“Chicamacomico” sounds like nothing we’ve ever done yet it sits comfortably amongst the rest of our catalogue. My records are chronological observations and I feel like this record perfectly represents the highs and lows of the last few years. Themes: Loss, Death, Darkness, Suicide, Divorce, Losing A Child, Losing A Parent, Losing A Spouse, Addiction, Recovery.”

“It’s beautiful, touching stuff, indicative of the songwriter’s talent for capturing life’s most emotionally tense moments with tenderness and sympathy…these stories are as captivating as many of those from John Prine…these songs finds Barham in superb, insightful form”

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