Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
This, the third session from the North Carolina group The Love Language, is bookended by songs that sound as if they have familial parts. They seem to have each other's eyes or maybe they share freckles. Either way, they seem to be related in that we're hearing a man sing about friendship that's just gotten out of hand and once that happens, heaven help everyone. It inevitably becomes something of a nightmare, something that has to be dealt with, a pesky needling that has to be resolved sooner or later. It's one of those things that gets rationalized with the thought that it's always better to know than to not know - to just remain tortured and silent for as long as you both can continue enjoying each other's company without the damaging threat of feelings, private parts and lips locking coming into the equation. Oh, that's when it all usually goes south and everyone knows it.
Stuart McLamb, the lead singer of the Love Language, seems pained, twice over here, on these two songs - "Heart To Tell" and "Summer Dust" -- from the band's latest full-length, "Libraries," a record that improves upon the promise that the band showed on its self-titled debut from 2009. It's another document of those prized moments when things and people turn to fire and they just burn until they can't any longer. These aren't usually very lengthy fires, just ones that scorch and then shorten down to the dirty, charcoaled rings left on the ground below where they used to stand. It's not a bad thing, to become a fire, but it's a manic sort of action that burns blue, as if emanating from the deepest recesses of the self.
When McLamb gets to writing, it seems as if he finds a balance in the contrast - as if there's no difference or diminished importance seen in love's rewards or love's rebuffs. He sings that, "Only love matters," at one point, and it's purposefully determined whether that has to be good/shared love or bad/unrequited love. It's moot. As long as it's there at all. It's enough of a prop just to have the makings of it, to have the inklings of those sparks that can make life's tougher moments passable and worth writing about, singing about. Even the drudgery of love, the days when it doesn't feel like anything much, just a meaningless dance, are good enough to feel. The Love Language is this, communicated. It's the whole ball of wax, the blood, the euphoria and the blanked and dazed gazes that sometimes follow.