A Burning Ember to a Grove of Trees

A Burning Ember to a Grove of Trees CoverHere we are, less than ten months after releasing our album Dust Among the Stars, with a surprise EP. It combines new recordings and previously released singles in one collection, most of which share a message of (cautious) optimism despite our current social calamities, and it was important to me to get this out before the 2016 Presidential election. These are our most political songs, and I’m sure I’ve never written an “important” song, but these are probably as close as I’ve gotten.

The EP kicks off with a brand-new song “In the End,” which was written in response to the constant howl of this election season, and recorded the first week of October. So that was, like, last week. It was the unexpected chance to jump in the studio and record this song that made the EP possible.

I’m basically a folk singer, and I felt like I had to get something out there about all this noise. Because the thing is, the votes are going to get counted and one of the candidates is going to go away, but we’re still going to be stuck with each other, and I think people have lost sight of that. I’m not a political party kind of guy, I care about human beings. I care about empathy and I’m terrified at how easy it is to lose that for other folks. You know, Woody Guthrie wrote “This Machine Kills Fascists” on his guitars, but Pete Seeger wrote “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender” on his banjo. I think that second one is the sentiment I was going for the most.

To go along with the track, I also made an immersive, 360-degree music video shot inside the studio, showing four of me performing all of the instruments. This’ll probably hurt your head:

Lyrically, “In the End” focuses on all of us bearing some responsibility for how we treat each other, and the fact that when people are hurting, we have to turn *to* one other, not turn *on* one another. That sentiment ties the track to two previously-released songs on the EP that come from the same emotional place – “Just to Win the Fight” and “A Mile of Ground.” Both of those were released in slightly different forms in 2012 and remastered for this EP. They focus on the human aspect of struggle and conflict, and the human cost.

Two cover versions of folk standards “Goodnight Irene” and “House of the Rising Sun” round out the EP. Our take on Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene” is being released for the first time, and was recorded during the Dust Among the Stars sessions.

The title of the EP, which has more words in it than the release has songs, is a metaphor for fear, which we could all do with a little less of, and is adapted from a line in “Just to Win the Fight.”

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In the End

The more of this noise that I perceive
The harder it is for me to believe
It’s too much with the hatred, it’s too much with the you-versus-me
It’s too much of pretending the truth is too veiled to see

It’s hard enough
It’s hard to transcend
Sometimes we all need a shoulder
And we’re all we’ve got in the end

I can’t say I understand
Locking the gates ’round the promised land
It’s too much with divisions, it’s too much with the lines in the sand
It’s too much with the torches and pitchforks in all our hands

It’s hard enough
It’s hard to transcend
Sometimes we all need a shoulder
And we’re all we’ve got
Sometimes we all need a shoulder
And we’re all we’ve got in the end

A Mile of Ground

A girl carries water in a gasoline can
A mile to the well, another back again
She didn’t ask to be born in this place
She didn’t ask, but she carries the weight

A boy in Nebraska stares up into space
Feels misunderstood, he dreams of escape
He didn’t ask to be born in this place, but
His future ahead is for him to create

The same heart pounds
As they kick the dirt up from the ground

Why do we wait?
What does it take
To see that in my shoes or yours
A mile of ground
Wherever it’s found
Is still the same distance to cross

A man with an office a hundred floors up
Can see for miles but it isn’t enough
Didn’t know peace would be so hard to find
He looks at tomorrow with fear in his eyes

A girl in the street throws up her fist with a shout
Joining her voice with the gathering crowd
Didn’t know peace would be so hard to find
Seizes her chance to make a better life

The same heart beats
Inside a soul that longs for relief

Why do we wait?
What does it take
To see that in my shoes or yours
A mile of ground
Wherever it’s found
May be the same distance to cross
But if the road’s not paved
The journey’s not the same

We put, we put
One foot
Before, before
The other.