Child of My Sorrow: An Exercise in Sadness by The Chairman Dances

Christ and Pop Culture | 9/4/2018 | S.D. Kelly
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In life, there are the poets and the prophets. The prophets tell us what is happening, and what will happen, to humankind, often in no uncertain terms. The dour Jordan Petersons, the wizened Harold Blooms, the feisty Camille Paglias of this world—these are the prophets. The poets, on the other hand, don’t tell us anything; the poet gives voice to all the sensations of being human. The absurdity, the transcendence, the despair and delight.

Eric Krewson of The Chairman Dances belongs to the poets. Anyone who names his band after a John Adams composition has a taste for the esoteric. And while Krewson’s arrangements are rooted in the sort of musical rigor one would expect of a songwriter and composer with an inclination toward the academic, what emerges from his disciplined sound is, more than anything, a sense of emotion.

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Child of My Sorrow is a cathartic sort of sadness.

The band’s new album, Child of My Sorrow, is an exercise in sadness. (Maybe the “sorrow” in the title is a giveaway.) But it’s a cathartic sort of sadness, continually undercut by the music itself. With lush arrangements featuring everything from piano to saxophone to perfectly paced percussion, the sonic experience is, well, fun. The sound also provides a contrast to the lyrics, such as the ones from the album’s opener, “Acme”:

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In the supermarket, reading to distract myself / Endcap special: Three for four!

Anyone who has ever been in this sort of trouble recognizes himself in the song immediately. The music itself is a march, echoing the act of putting one foot in front of the other, of being in such a state that walking through a supermarket feels practically heroic.

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