Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Is it wrong to believe that Andy Elwell operates better on days that are frozen, those during which, when people breathe out they're having visible conversations without using a word? They're huddled unto themselves, trying to tuck into their skin, into the parts of themselves that maintain a very reliable core temperature. The singer and songwriter from Minneapolis has experienced for himself too many of these types of days to ever count. They are quickly forgotten until they come back around and nip again like a bitch of a Northern dog, the teeth of the Vikings blowing down and into town to cripple everything and freeze everything to the soil.
The conditions are made such that general comfort is hardly possible. You move slowly and feel that you wouldn't mind a little cabin fever, something burning hard in the fireplace, up and out through the top of the chimney, signaling to everyone in a smoky tail that you're cozy for now.
When the outsides are like this, the insides of people are largely in shambles, panicked and fidgety. They begin to think that doomsday is near. There's an inclination to only consider what could come when the spring thaw finally makes an appearance. There's a belief that winter is going to last forever - that there will be no break in the harshness. Elwell sings about the appearance of snow on the rooftop, in a song here, and follows it with the thought that, "We'll all be dead soon." This is just because of a little snow. It's a conclusion that's quickly jumped to, rightly or wrongly. These sorts of days are fine for reflection though - when you're stuck indoors with your books and your coffee mugs, when there's just nothing else that can be done.
A man can start to think, as Elwell does, "I'm sorry mom, but I don't know if I can make it through this year." This could all begin with the winter that seems so long, when the abrasiveness of life's rough patches can be tasted and turned over, when the looks in people's eyes is a little like Elwell describes here, "In your eyes there's a beauty in the hurt forlorn/In the hearts that you've hung/On the walls of your soul." More hearts will be hung on the walls this winter. It's the best time of the year for such a thing - for the hanging and for staring at them.