And then there's music and songs and the sparks of inspiration. If not always and everywhere forever, a good record has the power to make you feel otherwise.
Water Liars -- named after a Barry Hannah short story -- is the new project of Justin Kinkel-Schuster and Andrew Bryant. The former was the lead singer and songwriter of beloved St. Louis band Theodore, now dissolved. The latter is an Oxford, Miss.-based multi-instrumentalist, now collaborating with his friend to make music that's eerie, tuneful and honest enough to last.
The nine songs on "Phantom Limb," an album recorded in Pittsboro, Miss. over the course of three days, are like snapshots framed by trembling, excited hands, capturing family distant and close, lovers kind and cruel, leavings relieved and regretful. The grungy guitar of opening track "$100 Bill" is a feint, as much of the album is softly fingerpicked and soulfully sung, even as the ghosts of electricity and noise always return.
"I ain't got nothing but these songs," sings the duo on the Van Zandtian blues "Whoa Back," just before the guitars roar back again. But as well-shaped as the individual songs are, "Phantom Limb" is something more than just songcraft. Spinning by like a montage, acoustic and electric, the album's themes are deepened by its strange, found sounds -- speakers breaking up, static like wind through a tunnel, a poet's occult intonations -- and fulfilled by its gospel harmonies, hooks and the raging, ragged, ever-bittersweet spirit of rock 'n' roll that just might be forever.
"Phantom Limb" by Water Liars will be released February 28 on Misra Records. According to Misra, pre-orders will include an unreleased, mastered outtake from the album and the first pressing will have limited edition album art that will be changed later.