The lounging front of the Head and the Heart’s new album Let’s Be Still is something we could all afford to do more often – just relax.
The new album is encouraging for the rising band – it is strong, it is set in their sound, and it expands upon themes explored in the band’s first album. It also sounds like a band that has a name – they stepped up to the pressure of creating an album to follow such a strong start.
It’s also the best thing that you can listen to if you’re a little rattled.
I’m a bit rattled.
This has been a year of shake-ups and mess-ups and come-backs and happiness and sorrow and reflection. Running around and realizing myself but having to remind myself to be a team player, yet at the same time promote myself because, you know, real life is around the corner. Do I really want to be doing this? Is this good for me?
I feel like I’m constantly on a subway, watching things blur by and the ground rumbling below my feet, with people coming and going and changing and sitting and standing and being afraid to bump into one another.
My appearance and heart changes constantly. I am shades of myself with different people and in different places. What I want in Manhattan is different from what I want in Queensway. My identity is a liquid, and I feel like only so much can ground me. Fortunately, and obviously, music tends to do this.
After being so used to speaking quietly and holding my head down, to not rock the boat, I’m finding that I have a voice. But I haven’t quite figured out the power that my voice has. It sometimes comes out stronger than I intend, with my opinions thickly woven into my words. Not everyone agrees with what I am saying. But how else am I supposed to communicate?
I’m shaking that “oh, I’m not worthy” vibe off, but I can’t think I am the most worthy. Because that is self-destructive.
My values are so set and so defined and I never really knew that until this year. Working with people through a complication is one thing, but failing at working out a solution is another. Things fall and break. Things hurt. Things are confusing. But I keep going on. I move from place to place to place.
Life moves on. And you breathe.
The people that stick with you, that really are still with you, let you breathe. They’re watching you rattle and rumble and run around – being crazy – and they stand still. They stand still so you can stop for a moment and just do something normal for a change. Go to a movie. Talk about a band. Visit a museum. Not worry about all of that soul-searching garbage for once.
With those people, your personality is a given. Maybe they haven’t known you for long, but they know you in the sense that they know you’re a person. They don’t put you on a pedestal or give you tasks to try to accomplish so you can prove your worthiness. They say things like “you look nice” when you’re wearing a new shirt or “hey can you pay me back?” because maybe you forgot to go to the bank and they want to remind you so you don’t have to worry about being in debt to them.
You also need to let yourself breathe from time to time.
I find that I breathe the best either staring at buildings or looking out onto water. In recent times, this has been the Thames and when I was looking at the BBC Broadcasting House. The Thames is a wide and fast river, more dynamic than the Chicago river. Think if Lake Michigan was put in a long, winding line across the land. The water moves and you don’t need to think of anything. You don’t need to think of that form for housing or how you’re going to approach a professor you want to ask questions about a class. You’re just looking at the water, and it’s like a painting. An impressionist painting in motion.
And buildings. Buildings are solid, buildings are real, and buildings are grounded. They are there. I feel like I have this striving sense of wanting to be here, to feel like I am in the moment. Buildings are always in the moment. They are there. And they can be so inspiring. A building can represent a beautiful passion, like how the BBC represents my passion for storytelling.
So breathe and be still. Sit and look at things. Don’t think about people, fill yourself with your surroundings.
The Head and the Heart is the antidote for the always-going, always-changing. It’s great to have goals and ambitions, but you need to lighten up from time to time.
These are things I tell myself, but things that are only understood by not thinking about these. These are things that I must feel. I must feel peace and I must feel the ability to breathe in order to actually breathe.
Listening to the album, I am in a different state. The instruments are all so real sounding, the words and the voice sound so honest. People just living. People just looking.
So sit and look around. Be everything and be nothing. Be still.