AL RIGGS

The title of this album is a verifiable statement.

There is a big, honking, humming box fan in the bedroom of our barely-insulated century-old Durham house. Like most meaningless noise, it is white.

Noisier than this fan are the earworms that pervade the space. They’re in the walls, the floorboards, and even the couch cushions. The earworms–let’s call them Strum, Kick, and Wail–nest in our second bedroom: a de facto recording studio. I try not to interrupt the work. But upon hearing the demos for piano-powered “America’s Pencil” and the rhythmically elusive “Emo Revival,” I kicked the door in and, wearing little more than a handful of shaving cream, proclaimed “that’s the hit!” But they knew that already.

Living with a musician is a very specific kind of existence. Living with a queer, non-binary, anxiety-addled musician with low-self image and a flare for anatomy-based metaphors has its own specific rewards. For perhaps the first time, sounds coming from that second bedroom have attacked me at the cellular level. Quarantined with the sounds for more than ten months, I know every individual note on every isolated track. When a change is made, I damn well know about it. And I’ve never been afraid to throw a flag on the field if something hits the ear wrong.

Those we know and/or love are present and accounted for. A.C. Niver’s pure tones make “Wishing and Clapping” a Three Stooges-esque harmonic casserole while Chuck Johnson’s pedal-steel witchery makes “Blighted By the Light” as dreamlike and borderless as a Carolina Country Night. Neither queer nor country enough in their own right, Al booked two of the gayest fabric samples in the business Patrick “Lavender Country” Haggerty and Paisley Fields to plug up the holes in “Ragged But Right.”

Like shuffled pages from random chapters of a yet-to-be-finished novel about being an old queer married couple (in our 20s and 30s yet), the sonic scraps have been dropping clues to what was to come: I Got A Big Electric Fan to Keep Me Cool While I Sleep. Somehow the cat made it onto the album three times. Myself, the Lawfully Wedded Spouse, I think presents once: as the belly upon which said feline snoozes.

Dustin K. Britt; arts journalist and husband


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IMAGES: To download, click above with photo credit to Areon Mobasher.

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