I’m probably going to take a break from my Best of 2014 posts and give my thoughts on The Leak Heard Round The World, and Madonna’s subsequent response – not that I really have all that much to add to it that hasn’t already been said, but when has that ever stopped me? But that night is not tonight. Tonight we’re gonna talk about my album of the year, and that album is First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold. No other album this year connected with me like this one did. That it was two Swedish sisters singing what basically amounts to their take on Americana makes it doubly amazing. It’s a strange world we’re living in, and sometimes I’m really thankful for that.
As with most things musical, I have my friend Steve Sears to thank for introducing me to First Aid Kit. He clued me into the lead single “My Silver Lining” last spring and I promptly forgot about it despite liking what I heard. A few weeks later, my wife must have played it on Spotify and it really struck a chord. I went and bought the song on eMusic and have listened to it 86 times so far this year. The album came out the day after my birthday and by then, I was hotly anticipating its release. I was not disappointed. Johanna and Klara Söderberg created some of the best harmonies I’ve heard in a long time on Stay Gold. The album is understated, simultaneously evoking the feeling of the desert on the album cover and a rainy day in the 1970s in New York City. It’s reminds me a lot of Suzanne Vega’s debut in how it makes me feel.
But more than anything else, Stay Gold is a wise album. I remember listening to it in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide this summer and so many of the lyrics resonated. A lot of them talk about things that I think about pretty much daily. I think that if music can’t speak to how we’re feeling, it’s really not worth much, at least not to me. And Stay Gold speaks very loudly to me, especially this year which has been a year of self-doubt and worry, even after I was pretty sure I had all that under control. Whether it be songs like “My Silver Lining” and worries as big as the moon and the song never being just sad or “The Waitress Song” reminding us that it’s a it’s a dark, twisted road that we’re on and we all have to walk it alone, I found solace in the lyrics as well as the sounds that those words were wrapped in.
Stay Gold also came in a beautiful gold vinyl pressing that I almost didn’t buy, but I sure am glad I did. Life’s too short to not get colored vinyl when you can get it.
I wanted to see First Aid Kit in concert this year, but they were in Minneapolis in November, which is always dicey because you just never know what the weather is going to do. Turns out by the time I got around to getting serious about it, they were sold out. Next time.
If you haven’t checked this album out, please do so. It’s on Spotify and I’ll even make it easy for you by providing a direct link to the album.