Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
When all else fails, it's all just failed. There are very few places to turn for help. Some people call on some higher power, whether they put much stock in the process or any of the invisible/visible results or not. Some people get down on their knees and believe that it's all the effort they need to make to affect change or some created good fortune happen in their lives. If they deliver themselves wholly over to that deity thing that they believe lives way up there or wherever that spot may be, they've done all that they can and it's out of their hands. It seems that this would be the ultimate and most overwhelming feeling of unsettling uncertainty that anyone could ever imagine, but that's not how any of those people who do such a thing look at it. Singer and songwriter Gabriel Birnbaum and his writing project, Boy Without God, looks closely at the failures and the depressions, as they come to his. He associates with those of others as well, bringing them in closely, as an exploration of emotions and sensations and what becomes of them when we've heard enough or we think we're through with them. The songs that Birnbaum writes, in response to the things that he finds himself thinking about - almost drunkenly, exhaustively - are sober songs of painful understanding. He's taken himself through the fires that he's seen and felt smoldering and he doesn't try covering up at all, just letting himself get eating alive by them, scarred horribly. All of the burns that he's taunted and tempted are his prides and joys. He seems to have come to some powerful conclusions, these meanings that carry all of insight that he's stumbled upon. What they amount to is that belief that there's nothing much holding us up but the thinnest of strings and who knows who might be pulling them. It's almost as if his grand idea about us as people and souls in that we're all exactly like Wile. E. Coyote and we're running ourselves over so many cliffs and defying gravity for a lot longer than we should be, still running on air, after we've long ago run past the edge of the cliff. Then we look down. Sometimes, however, we still don't fall, but the clock is ticking even louder and is looming greater than it ever had before. He doesn't exaggerate the tough times, knowing that they're just as quick to turn good and vice versa. He suggests that you should "let your demons cover you with kisses," which might just be a better way of saying, "Just fucking go for it. Whatever makes you happy. It must be alright." It's best just to find something light, some little lightning, even if it's not always shining. He sings on "Only Sweetness," from his latest album, "God Bless The Hunger," "Had a party up north/Well the music shakes my drink and the happy happy happy people talked to happy you/And I'm going crazy in my head/Tearing pictures off the wall and spitting poison/And I watch you like an airplane/Taking off," and it seems like these two people are once again going through a rough patch, but then they end up going home together and Birnbaum finishes the thought, singing, "We barely sleep/Your body keeps/All bad things away." But the devil's kisses, those are gonna stay.