Sweet Sirens, The Crosswalk Kings

As soon as I heard Our Goodbye I fell in love with the song and the voice of the songwriter, Seneca Block, lead singer and guitarist of The Crosswalk Kings. Our Goodbye is a gentle lullaby of love and loss, and its simple poetry perfectly expresses the profound subject of parting.

Life is a field of green

Between winter snows

So when your heart knows loss,

You will find love to know,

They’re cut from the same cloth.

And I hope that it makes you smile

One more time.

And I won’t forget you.

When I become the earth.

And all the beautiful flowers

To whom I give birth,

Call out your name,

I hope that it makes you smile

One more time.

Don’t you worry away your days.

We will find our way.

So smile, this is our goodbye.

This is our goodbye.

Our goodbye.

Our Goodbye is just under three minutes, and the tempo is moderate, but yet I had to play the song over and over because it disappeared too soon. I wanted to hear it again and again and besides, I couldn’t write. I was crying my eyes out.

Our Goodbye is in 3/4 time and starts with a swaying acoustic guitar. Seneca Block’s voice comes in and lies down gently on top. At about the 2:20 mark the full band kicks in. At this point Seneca sounds like his heart is breaking, even as he tries to reassure us, or perhaps himself, that things are going to be all right. My skin prickles when Jon Simmons comes in on piano, playing a lovely, conversational melody line that for me, is the voice of the person Seneca is singing to.

At 2:50 the piano melody—so simple, so expressive—gives me full on goosebumps, and then too soon, like the song, it’s over. But that melody line answers Seneca’s lyrics, and just as Seneca seems to want to reassure us even as his heart is quietly breaking, the piano sounds as if it seeks to reassure him. The conversation is complete. We’ve been privileged listeners.

Seneca Block’s vocals make think just for a second of John Mayer, and someone else who I can’t quite place, someone who really knows how to sing. To my ears Seneca Block’s singing voice is close to speech, a style that is authentic and soothing and a personal favorite of mine.

When so many people are spilling themselves all over the media, their souls bared to such extremes that their performances are nearly without nuance, hearing the restraint in Seneca’s voice is a relief, a rare breath of artful restraint that promises a gentle, healthy intimacy.

Our Goodbye was recorded at Emerson Radio Station and I’ve included a bunch of pics from the session. I love these photos, they match the honest music of The Crosswalk Kings.

Based in Boston, The Crosswalk Kings have a singer songwriter/pop/rock sound that could be called Adult Contemporary, although I’m not sure if that label is quite right for them. The quiet yearning in Seneca Block’s voice is something we will all know at various times in our lives and resonates like good poetry. I don’t like the idea of putting this band in a box.

The Crosswalk Kings uploaded three songs to the Sirenstories SoundCloud, so I’m sure I’ll post more about them at some point, but really, I can’t wait to hear what they do next in the studio. Click on their pics and you’ll wind up at their Reverbnation page or their fb page where they’ve just posted a few new beautiful demos.



Back to Book Trailers, The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister

My favorite things: music, books, movies. The order varies, but the list explains why I love book trailers.

The trailer for Charlotte Agell‘s middle grade novel The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister is one the best I’ve seen.

One of the things that’s so wonderful about this trailer is how true to the book it is. The trailer captures the essence of The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister. In this case, I read the book first then saw the trailer. My review of the book is below.

India is one of my favorite characters in Middle Grade fiction today. She’s even got her own blog, which is adorable and much more organized than mine. Of course India’s creativity might have something to do with her multitalented creator Charlotte Agell who probably gives India a hand once in a while. Click on India’s pic to visit to her blog.

The Siren behind the music for India’s book trailer is Charlotte’s son, Jon Simmons. The music is perfect; it expresses both India’s sweetness and her quirkiness.

Jon is also part of a pop/rock band based in Boston called The Crosswalk Kings. Look for a post about his music soon on Sirenstories

 

I finished reading The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister on the beach. The pages have a little sand in between them now, and I think that would make India happy.

India loves the outdoors, and author Charlotte Agell has included some beautiful descriptions of inland Maine in this entertaining and moving story about a sweet-natured nine and a half-year old girl who takes her fairly complicated life pretty much in stride. In a world full of little drama queens, I found India’s attitude refreshing.

Besides being an excellent and economical writer, Charlotte Agell is a gifted painter. An adorable watercolor portrait of India and the family pet bird, Beatrice Strawberry graces the cover of the book. I’d like to see Ms. Agell put out a version of India with full-blown watercolors of all the characters and their homes. I want to see paintings of things like “the lilac bush hidden in the fog” that India sees when she can’t sleep early one morning and steps outside to sit on her front porch swing.

Wolfgang, Maine, where the book takes place, is a front porch kind of town and by the time I’d finished the book I wanted to go there. Although there are no watercolors other than the front and back cover and jacket flaps–they feature more great pictures of India with the bird and her dog Tofu, the jacket designers obviously knew a good thing when they saw it–the book is full of sketches: clever drawings of India and things she likes, plus–just as important–things she doesn’t like. The sketches are accompanied by comments that made me laugh out loud.

India has a unique voice. Her backstory is rich. The settings are beautifully rendered. The book is colorful in every sense of the word, as is India’s slightly wacky artist mother.

India was adopted, and we learn she has questions and issues around that, but the book isn’t a big drama. Instead, The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister is a story, told by showing us small wondrous details in what seems like a very real little girl’s life.

I found myself wondering what will happen in India’s future, especially as far as she and her best friend, a boy named Colby, are concerned. Snowstorms in June, whale songs, yearning, and insightful comments fill this book that begs to be part of a series. A sequel won’t enough for those of us who have fallen in love with India McAllister.

I checked out this book as a possible gift for my niece who is India’s age. Unlike India, she’s not an avid reader. I’m pretty sure this perfect book of adventures will change that. I couldn’t put it down myself. It’s sweet and funny, and the way India’s small but complicated family comes together in the end left me with a lump in my throat and a smile on my face.

Confession: I’m a huge fan of Charlotte Agell‘s work. Her picture books are among my favorites, and my son, who is five, feels the same. The paintings that illustrate her books are so beautiful, I’ve been tempted to tear out certain pages and frame them.

My son and I love Charlotte’s book To The Island so much, that I used the text, with only a few alterations, as the lyrics for a song. Below is the super rough version I recorded on my laptop, at home, with my son.

I hope to go into the studio one day and do a better recording, but for now, I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed singing it. The words are so simple, but to me, they’re a metaphor for some of life’s more profound passages.