A Wolf At the Door
by Julie Carpenter
“First you live forever then you die”
And before you go, you should listen to Roy Peak’s new album. For this album, Roy slows down just a little. Like the aging wolf in “Walk with Me Now” he brings the reader along for a slow walk with some dark turns. In the meantime, there is beauty.
As a writer, I find that I appreciate Roy’s music on a narrative level. Every album creates a mood and tells me a story. Someday, I’m going to just sit down and listen to each of Roy’s albums, follow the character he creates in my mind and do a series of short stories based solely on his music. Until that day, let me assure you that the mood of this album is right for reflection here at the end of the world.
For instance in “Far From Nowhere,” which contains the lyrics from the above quote, distance and age are delineated by an almost danceable tune and yet… the listener still gets the feeling of the sadness and nostalgia, the distance between a life already lived and the edge of nothing. Roy makes beautiful use of space and brief pauses as though the guitar is a heartbeat that’s beginning to pause, to think of letting go. The line “first you live forever, then you die” is an example of his ability to combine simplicity with depth in his lyrics.
“Daughter of the Sun” is another of Roy deceptively simple songs, a song of loss and longing that feels as much like mourning for a hope that once was as it is about any specific lover, in this case a daughter-of-the-sun who has been poisoned by the venom of an evil snake. The idea that the beauty and joy in life can be stolen by malice is powerful. The harmonies of the song give it an almost religious quality, as though it could be sung at a religious service or around a campfire as a lamentation.
One of the themes of the album is clinging to dreams and fantasies that may be preventing life from moving on, whether it’s a misplaced sense of control, as in “Queen of the Knock-Out Rose” or trusting the wrong wolf for a walk in the moonlight in “Walk With Me Now”. As always Roy’s music and lyrics seem to be born together and in the same mood.
As the album moves forward, we get even more of a sense of doom. Even the instrumental, Evel Kneivel, while more driving than the other songs on the album, feels like a bad mood swinging into action, off to save the world that’s killing itself, likely to fail. The album ends with “And a Wolf Shall Devour the Sun, an appropriate finale, with an “unkindness of ravens, and a murder of crows”. It turns out that the wolf has indeed devoured the past and the nostalgia for it in a gulp. Are you ready for what’s next?
Though it’s short, this album forms a complete emotional milieu, with Roy’s rugged and gruff vocals over every genre that he bends from punk to folk, country to blues, in the service of making us see his dark vision. This album is a narrative, moody, perfect choice for listening as the world implodes.
Julie Carpenter is the creator of the Sacred Chickens website. She is dedicated to telling stories and making sure that indie writers and publishers have a way to be heard. She uses narrative, her own and others’, to help interpret the world. She has a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Memphis, with an emphasis in Composition Theory. She wants to bend reality one story at a time. Julie’s work has appeared in Fiction on the Web and will be included The New Guard. She is currently working on a novel.