032:: RACKET

Listen to "032 :: RACKET" on Spreaker.


This Ain't The Way You Go Out by Lucy Rose, released by Communion Records in 2024. Listen / Buy direct


I thought I had heard everything the piano could do. And then I heard this.

What a way to announce yourself. It's a deceptively simple accompaniment, keeping time like a metronome and moving between just a few chords. But underneath it's playing wildly with rhythm, shifting between measures of 5, then 4, then 4 again, then 3 – quietly destabilizing us, but all the while still sounding like a pop song.

And then the whole song opens up into billowy synth pads and ascending arpeggios and a new, dilated half-time feel, as if everything we'd heard before has evaporated and we're now floating on top of it.

And then, just as quickly, we snap back down to earth, and fall back into the stumbling staccato of the verse. And in fact, this back and forth is what the song's about: the experience of shifting between two different modes of moving through life – on the one hand, the struggle of mundane existence, with all its discomfort, doubt, and pain; and on the other, this ethereal vision of a different way of being, without worry or care – though not necessarily a better way of being, for it only achieves its lightness by, as the singer says, "quietly hiding from reality".

But as the singer continues, "There's a greatness in our view." Neither vision tells the whole story or offers a full perspective on life. Rather, the truth lies in holding these two different visions together, side by side, as only our minds, or this song itself, can do.

But let's not stop there. Let's jump into another song, another feeling, and yet another inventive riff – this jaunty, popcorning, syncopated duet between the keys and the drums. It's not revolutionary, but man, does it ever groove. And then, yet another left turn into the chorus, which reverberates with new sounds of open chords and spectral harmonies. And then, the song starts to tear itself apart, disintegrating into a heap of distortion and halting rhythms.

It's all so perfect for a song that's about the incommunicability of one's own pain. It's like the music itself is reaching out for a new language, to express something that mere words cannot. And maybe music can't really express it either; maybe nothing is sufficient to "ever really feel it for you". But music like this is at least enough to make anyone take notice and listen up.

So let's do one more. The piano part is now an inversion of the previous two songs, rhythmically simple but harmonically dense, counting out the downbeats with a jazzy chromatic figure. The rhythm section fills things out with a punchy backbeat on the drums and a funky melodic counterpoint on the bass. And as things go on, the sounds get fuzzier, more raucous and resonant, a euphonious cacophony of instruments and effects blending into one.

And that brings us to the song's central metaphor: "Cause I'm still picking up the racket / And I hit the ball". Except the song's central metaphor is not actually a metaphor. The singer is quite literally describing their own process of physical therapy after a debilitating illness, which turned the simple act of tennis into a momentous achievement. But of course, nothing in a song can not be a metaphor. And so the racket becomes a symbol of the singer's resilience, a sign of hope in trying times. And at the same time, the "racket" also conjures up the din and clatter of life, the chaos and unpredictability that we must stand resilient against. And that casts the song's own rackety quality in a new light, and gives deeper meaning to the anarchy of its arrangement, with all its glitchiness and overdrive and rhythmical hiccups. The artist is making a racket, if only to express the turmoil that they've been through, and to show us that they can pick up this racket, too, make it their own, and hit that ball.

Liner Notes

The illness that was the inspiration for much of this record was a rare form of osteoporosis, along with several fractured vertebrae, brought on by Rose's first pregnancy, in 2021.

Rose has released a playlist of the songs that inspired This Ain't The Way You Go Out. It's a fresh blend of new and old jazz and R&B, and provides an interesting additional perspective on the sound of the album.