"Carissa" deals with a second cousin who died in a fire, and Kozelek's attempts to reconcile his death and his grief. That's the first track on the album. The second song is called "I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love." Here's a lyrical sampling:
"My mother is 75
She's the closest friend I have in my life
Take her from me, I'll break down and ball
And wither away like old leaves in the fall."
"My mother is 75
One day she won't be here to hear me cry
When the day comes for her to let go
I'll die off like a lemon tree in the snow
When the day comes for her to leave
I won't have the courage to sort through her things
With my sisters and all our memories
I cannot bear all the pain or the weight."
That's all from the second song on the album. At this point, I'm thinking we'll get a slight reprieve from this bleak landscape. The third song, "Truck Driver" begins, "My uncle died in a fire on his birthday." And we haven't even gotten to the song about the tragedy in Newtown.
Sun Kil Moon - "Pray for Newtown"
I could go on -- this is seriously the tip of the iceberg. It's gut-wrenching; when it's not tragic, it's a detailed description of his sex life (chronological by partner) in "Dogs," and when it's not personal, it's something like "Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes." (I am not making that song title up for effect either.) The stream of consciousness delivery is a constant, eerie, matter-of-fact solidity that makes the experience even more jarring. But in the most genuine and touching way.
As haunting and down as it is, it's constructed with care and beauty. It's a reality show, if you took "reality" to its literal definition, as opposed the manufactured, packaged, and scripted reality you see on TV. It's dark, but it shines.
CD Placement Rating: Car iPod.