Broken…wasn’t the word we used to set the tone. This all started from a conversation, about music, our favorites, and the trajectory of a certain style of it. Call it alt-country, americana, folk, whatever floats. But move it farther west, out of the south, into the southwest. Strip it down to the bones and guts. No fluff and little flourish. No awkward sermonizing, empty patriotism or schmaltz.
Truth…. a word we tried out on some of these songs. We met across a dinner table at a benefit for a concert hall, a young man, just 21, and an old(er) man, twice as old. Tyller was already establishing himself, bursting with talent, musicianship and a signature voice. Chris’s exterior concealed a life steeped in songwriting and recording for an audience of one, never desiring to broaden it beyond a close circle of friends. An unlikely union sure, but the bond was instantaneous, like two travelers in a foreign place, grateful and astonished to fine someone who speaks their own obscure language. Ty, typically reticent to make room for another in his creative space, made a gesture of resonant trust and brought over a melody, a guitar part and a few words. “Her words drift like smoke, from a dying candle.” You get an image like that in your head and you might not realize how many doors it will open that have to be closed. We soon had a song, but it felt like we were abandoning our protagonist, like we had to answer the lingering questions.
It wasn’t meant to be an album, or really much of anything. It didn’t make a lot of sense that it worked, a generation apart from each other in a room with two guitars. But instead of answers, we kept coming up with more questions, and therefore a need for more answers. Every Tuesday night for over a year and a half, we talked, tried to understand this guy, and each other. Where’s he going? Who is he? Honesty, abandonment, infidelity, faith, love, loss, redemption…all of them complexities, shades of him, parts of this man, many men, the two of us. We lamented the near extinction of music like “Red Headed Stranger,” and the ghost of the killer in there haunted some of what we were playing as we tried to paint the shades of our man. The writing had to go on until the story was done.
Broken…another way of saying flawed. He is the two of us, torn apart and laid out there, holding little back. We are The Wrecking Balls.