With “Can You Hear These Walls Did Speak,” Worcester-based singer-songwriter Torbin Harding of LoZRecords presented a nice examination of the alienation and frustration of not being able to help someone. It’s a bit of dreamlike, melodic, and well-crafted power pop, and though he sometimes rolls too cautiously through his subjects, Harding still manages to take barely sketched portraits and stripped-down lyrics and turn them into something truly. moving.
The album begins with “Will You”, a delicate song built on Harding’s clear and haunting falsetto, which drops to a lower scale for the chorus: “Living in a dirty room / you don’t have to give up too soon ./Will you get better someday? That’s the question that permeates the album, a whispering ghost behind every song. guitar that stops on the cloudy soundscape of the song – the question persists. “Everyone wants you to go,” Harding sings, in a chorus, but it’s unclear if his character is part of “everyone Maybe it’s more complicated than that. It’s usually with drug addicts, and by the third song, “West Coast,” there’s a sure sense that’s what’s going on.
“I heard about the West Coast today,” sings Harding. “It’s good to know that you are doing well / Living in a house by the bay / Even if you are lost you know you are on the right track.” Here it is clear that the character wants the subject of the song to come home, but there is something unsettling under the song. Something in the tone, giving the feeling that a return is not in the cards. The last time the choir repeats, “Living in a House by the Bay” becomes “Living in a Shelter by the Bay,” which has a different connotation and is a little more concerning. As the album progresses to “Dream”, a sweetness permeates the music – “I take the bus to New York City / I sat next to someone cool” – but so much so. feeling that the character is trying to move on with his life, he admits that he still dreams of the person who has “disappeared”, even though he “still feels that you are doing well”.
Most of them are ephemeral volutes that scroll quickly and smoothly, but the consistency of the album is remarkable. When we move on to songs like “Come So Far” and “Hold You At Night” it can be easy to miss that Harding has tightened his focus, focusing more on a romantic relationship, one in disarray: “Turn Your Face me now / Don’t run out the door / No matter how bad things are now / I won’t ask for more. It changes the album image: something is really wrong, and whereas previously the character could be anyone – a friend, a brother, a lover – now it is clear how personal this absence is and how much demons disturb. The question still resonates: “Is “Will you be better someday?” Now, however, the listener is forced to wonder if the character is part of that solution, guilty of the problem, or neither. Harding fills that liminal space. of nostalgia, in particular in “Window”, he remembers a beautiful moment of tenderness under a sky p lein of stars, but inevitably, the character always comes back to haggling, begging the subject to come back in “Life is Too Short.” “The character spends most of the album pleading what seems like a void.
“Blanket” is a tender place of comfort for the character, but the absence persists. It’s built into the structure of the album, always pulling on the listener’s ear, even when the subject is absent from the song. Yet it is only after “Say I Again” that the character expresses a sense of guilt: “I’ll never bother you again,” Harding sings, in the chorus, “because I hurt you. We don’t learn what he did to justify it. Just that, “I remember the night you told me / You told me how it was going to be / We were at Ralph’s to hear a band / You will only hang out with your other friends.” Lots of people. between us saw this breakup happen at Ralph’s Rock Diner, in fact. It’s one of those things that is always painfully apparent from the outside.
Harding’s guitar work throughout the album is understated. He plays with a light hand, and it pays off several times, especially on “Little Child,” where he returns to the theme of someone running away. It’s a testament to the album that Harding is able to maintain an emotional thread throughout, and much of that work relies on his guitar. Yet as the album enters its closing triptych, it picks up the tempo, even as it begins to tie the emotional strands of the song together. “No Place” seems to have a sense of acceptance, even though the character acknowledges a debt to the subject that he could never repay. “Don’t Go With Him” seems, at first glance, like a song on the subject of leaving with someone else, but lines like: “Please don’t go with it / You have the feeling that skin “conjures up something completely different than losing someone to a person. Finally, things end with” Grass, “with the character indulging in nostalgia again, but now seemingly more aware than ‘He does. “Our happiness that day,” Harding sings, “Will never be taken away.” The absence that haunted the album is never truly resolved, because it can’t be. that the couple had is completely gone. “Will you get better someday?” turns out to be the wrong question, she will or she won’t. We can’t see it from that point of view. But will she come back? The answer, at the end, seems to be “no”.