"Equal in the Darkness" from Line of Light
We've been blindfolding our audiences for experimental concerts we call Concert in the Blind. We perform the entire concert moving in and out of the crowd, whispering in their ears and playing with the fact that they can't see us. I wanted to write a song that spoke to this particular experience. I imagined harking back to those classic country duets where a man and woman are in conversation but recasting it with a metaphysical slant -- a rollicking song about good and evil, light and dark. In all our 12 years together, we've never written or performed a song that works like that and I loved the challenge of it.
Even though the band has folk roots, I've been resistant to making "folky" / stripped-down records since Carpenter Bird. Inspired by our experience with producers Sam Kassirer and Josh Kaufman, I've embraced the experimental possibilities of the studio and felt like for something to last and hold my own interest, it needed to have a more contemporary sound. For a country-tinged song like "Equal in the Darkness," it was important that the recording have certain elements that countered the hoedown vibe of the track. I think we achieved that musically by the drony electric guitar work of producer Carl Broemel and the subtle, atmospheric synths of Paul Curreri. I'm also playing the rhythm track on my huapanguera -- a large guitar from la Huasteca region of central Mexico. Although the effect is quite understated, I think it helps the song sound fresher and more like a DWM song than it would if I were just playing the steel string acoustic guitar. Lyrically, I wanted to embrace the idea that the song was a conversation between good and evil in order the steer the song away from what could have become a more twee love song.
As much of I've been hesitant to make a folky-sounding recording in the last couple of years, I love when we find ourselves playing stripped-down at a radio station and the musicality and vibe of us playing together in a room. We wanted to capture that feel, so Ben Kogan is on the upright bass and Danilo is mostly playing calabash, an African gourd that he brings into those more intimate settings. We still added bigger tom and kick drums to give the song more meat, but it felt natural to rely more on the earthy sounds of the calabash for the sustaining rhythm of the song. We often arrange and add the final fiddle or strings part after we've done the basic tracks, but Suz's playing during the live takes felt so natural and right that Carl was able to use her fiddling without any additional overdubs. I think the result is a recording that feels honest and organic.