Most of us use music as a retreat from the jungle of modern living, of paying taxes and breaking up and going to work and trying to get a decent, honest-to-god black cup of coffee. That’s why pop music is a thing. People would rather listen to Rihanna and Drake sing about work than actually go to work. It’s rare and often trite for an artist or band to be wholly confessional, to confront their feelings head on and expose themselves without sounding too much like a sad trombone. For the Georgia-based group Mothers, their debut album “When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired” manages to find the line where confessional becomes melodramatic and dance around its arbitrary division.
The album’s compositions wax and wane, building in tempo and energy when it needs to and retracting when a moment calls for reprieve. Mothers combine elements of folk music such as the mandolin-driven ballad “Too Small for Eyes” with sluggish indie rock as in “Copper Mines” or “Lockjaw,” creating distinct differences within the album. At one moment, the album feels tender and gentle then angry and harsh the next, but each change is refreshing, never too much a sad lullaby and never too much a noisy rock song. The orchestra, guitar work, and percussive elements add interesting complexities to otherwise simple compositions, playing with mood and tempo, tugging and pulling the songs to places we don’t even notice until we are already there.
With deeply confessional lyrical content, the rich instrumentation elevates the words and make them even more impactful than they would be without the arrangements. Frontwoman Kristine Leschper’s voice is shaky and vulnerable, reminiscent of Joanna Newsom, if Newsom decided to drop the harp and pick up an electric guitar. “You love me mostly when I’m leaving,” she sings over jangly guitars in “Lockjaw.” Leschper writes about guilt, loneliness, and ego and turns them into pocket sentiments you can carry with and whisper to yourself: “god is stuck singing himself to sleep/I am not the only one” and “I was a napkin in the rain.” Unlike many lyricists, Leschper provides both questions and possible solutions with lyrics that stab but then put pressure on the wound.
Leschper created Mothers in 2013 as a solo project while studying printmaking the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Shortly after, she recruited Matthew Anderegg, Drew Kirby, and Patrick Morales, so the band is still relatively new and the sound of the album reflects a band trying to figure out who they are. “When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired” is underpinned with sadness and sorrow but rarely does it overshadow the often-times playful instrumentation. Leschper and Mothers have turned depression into songs that are exciting and intense not because they are living in that depression but because they are moving forward into something new.
Learn more about Mothers: Here
Watch a live performance at Audiotree: Here