Life’s itch strikes us all, urging the release of our interior monologues. Be it impulsiveness or an unconscious drive, those who heed the call by singing out from distant corners, attempting to answer their own questions, are the ones for me. Battling such cognitive drama, Water Liars drummer Andrew Bryant lays his mental strands bare on his sixth solo release, This is the Life.
After a three-year whirlwind of recording and touring with Water Liars, Bryant returned home to Mississippi last year to record songs written on the road. Playing the bulk of instruments on This is the Life himself, Bryant is joined by Matt Patton (Drive-By Truckers, Dexateens) on bass and Kell Kellum on pedal steel on select tracks. Filled with recompense and introspection, Bryant’s fortitude is on display from the outset. Opening with the motivational “Do What You Love,” Bryant has little use for metaphor, allowing direct access to his inner thoughts on “It Takes Time” and “My Own Saving Grace.” The electric jubilation of “Losing My Shit” is a hook-laden anthem that doubles as a self-congratulatory fist pump.
Lay it all on the ground
Let your insides do their job
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming
It might be all we got
Moods swing on This is the Life, from the brooding “Keep it Together” and ironic futility of “The Free,” from which the album’s title is derived, to the perverse poetics of “I Want You Final” and swishing litany of self-preservation of “Fool Heart.”
Your blood is my blood
And I know how it tastes
When I lick the end of my fingers
Thinking about you
While artists like Bryant may not find the answers they seek, we listeners are rewarded for their efforts. Arriving at a simple solution on the intentionally placed closing benediction, “Do Your Work,” Bryant can cast aside any lingering doubts about his ability as a songwriter as This is the Life is a cogent reminder of why music matters. It’s very likely I’ll be discussing this January release come December.
Watch the video for “The Free” below and purchase This is the Life on vinyl or digital via Sleep Recordings.