whitewolfsonicprincess: The Alternate Boot: Vols. 1&2: An Album that Expresses the Zeitgeist of our Times
There is a tension—anxious and beautiful—at the heart of “The Alternate Boot Vols. 1&2” (The 2-CD version of the album available 01.08.19 on Bandcamp!), whitewolfsonicprincess’ new album that is hard, at first, to put your finger on.
On the one hand, the lyrics of several of the songs manifest our apprehensive times. For example, “There’s a sadness in the world/there’s a madness in the world/is no bottom to the well/is no answer you can tell” are the opening lines of Sadness In The World (Hayden/Moeller). Thematically, the roster of songs in this double album runs the gamut from pure fun (Surfer Boy From Illinois), spiritual reflection (So Clear), and love, desire, and reminisces are scattered throughout like jewels on a pathway, but it’s the somber tones that line the route.
Other examples: “The fear is big, my beauty fast and fading…” (I Close My Eyes), “Tell me about that Morning Dove/How the Darkness Bleeds into the Light” (in Your Shining Eyes, a shimmering standout track). Vol. 2 closes on this somber tone with Carla Hayden singing “Sometimes the light turns into shadows/Even angels can’t hide the face of fear” (Hand Of Grace). Undoubtedly, sober reflection and an acknowledgment of our fearful times are part of the role of artists in vertiginous times. Thus, the sensibility of this album is poetic and responsible.
For all of that, one rarely attends to art as an act of duty. So why despite the ostensible glumness of theme is this album so listenenable… (and I have had it on repeat for several days now)? After these repeated listens, I suspect that what “The Alternate Boot Vols. 1&2” has achieved is to put its lyrical and honest arc of truth-telling into fruitful at times tense conversation with music that is so driving, surging, muscular and vivacious that these songs become magnetic and unforgettable.
The Alternate Boot performs the small miracle of both calling out our times while raising us up. It is hard to come away from this music without feeling emboldened and up to the task of both resisting, and just as importantly, of living gracefully. The album is at its surging best on the previously mentioned Your Shining Eyes, as well as Dance a Wave, So Clear, the psychedelically tinged Hand in Hand, and the swelling and heaving Brown Eyes.
I have been a fan of whitewolfsonicprincess since I first saw them perform an intimate gig in Evanston, IL a decade or so ago. But this new offering is undeniably special. The album will have all the elements that fans expect from this band: it is lyrically interesting rock-and-roll, but this is something delicious and not to be missed. – Liam Heneghan
Liam Heneghan – Author of “Beasts at Bedtime,” Professor of Environmental Science and Studies at De Paul University. He is a Dubliner, an occasional poet, and a father of two grown children.