I am so enjoying this album. It's fun and upbeat and challenging and heart-wrenching, much like Albertine (released in the US in 2008). Flags is full of sentiment and you know that there is meaning behind the lyrics and arrangements. Brooke released a video on her Vimeo account (http://vimeo.com/14592980) in which she says she wasn't sure what she had to say when considering another album after Albertine, but she chance meetings and experiences gave her new inspiration. So, I guess Flags is really about her life and her adventures.
The album starts off with "Something in the Water," bright and happy and super sweet. Brooke said she wanted to write a song about wearing bright red rain boots and jumping in puddles :) I can picture it. Her hair is wet in the video, and I guess that explains why! This song makes you smile. Makes you. I'd like to see you frown while it's playing. It reminds me of that feeling you get when you're first falling in love and always smiling for no reason.
"Betty" is equally upbeat, but the subject matter is more serious. This song is about a hip, withdrawn young woman who is hiding her Canada-shaped birthmark and much of who she is. Brooke explained that Betty is simply a character who emulates the reality that, "we all have things that we are embarrassed about." My favorite verse is, "You've got a fool-proof plan for a lonely life/You would be no one's daughter and a drunk man's wife/ If a wife at all, what a silly institution/ Or so you keep insisting." Psshh, ya, who wants to be married anyway :) It's just another testament to how guarded we will become in order to hide our faults from others. Jon Foreman and Ben West assisted in the writing of "Betty," btw, very cool.
On to "Orphans, Kingdoms." The first verse has the best lyrics, "In me, in you/Orphans, kingdoms/Wide eyes and paper crowns." I didn't completely understand this song at first, but it always made me think of the beautiful beaches in Northern California (see below)
and the uncertainty that comes with self-discovery. Then, I watched the intro video and go figure, it turns out it was written while Brooke was staying in Bodega Bay, reading The Interior Castle. Haha :) It's a song about learning and the struggle to become who you really are.
Wow, how applicable!
"Who Are We Fooling" is next. Oh. My. Goodness. This song is a wonderful illustration of how difficult love can be after the 'honeymoon phase' is over. Should I stay or should I go…Are we going to get through this…"So we're back here again/ Tip-toeing 'round the edge of the end." This song was written/performed with the lead singer of Aqualung, Jethro Tull, so it's a bittersweet duet that kinda haunts you.
How corny does that sound? But seriously, it's stuck in your head all day after you listen to it.
I think I could write a whole post on this song. Maybe I will. This song is one of my favorites on the album. It's also one of Brooke's favorites :)
The saddest song on the album is "Ice On Her Lashes," which is about the cycle of grief. Grief is something everyone experiences, everyone has to live with and everyone handles it differently. The main character's name is Annie and this song tells the tale of the people who have to keep living without her. Life has to keep going, but there's not a day these people don't think about Annie. So sad. But the arrangement with the strings and strong percussion seem so brave and strong.
The next track is a startling contrast to "Ice On Her Lashes." "Coachella" is about the wonderful experience Brooke had at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. If it was anything like this song, then you have to go. It's full of beautiful imagery and makes you want to sing along with the windows down and your sunglasses on.
Haha. I promise I wasn't paid to write this cheesy stuff.
"Jack Kerouac…is an author. One of his most famous books is a book called On the Road…" The song is named after the author and is about Brooke's experience on the road. She calls is a "jolly-Roger of a song," and it really is. It's a lot like James Taylor's One Man Dog (not the song "One Man Dog," but the whole album)…at least, that's what it reminds me of. It's a great road tripping song. Brooke sums up her touring experience by singing, "Oh it's humorless and comical at once/
Always being a stranger wearing the last town's dust." Sounds like an adventure to me. Not that I have any personal experience with touring.
"Sailboats" is a song Brooke wrote for her husband. She says she always likes to have a song on her album that people will play at their weddings.
I'll play this one at mine :)
It's so cute. And I've slow-danced to it. Not going into detail on that one because I don't want to embarrass anyone (guess who), but I have. It was sweet.
"We’re adrift on a sailboat
My love is the sea
Yours is the horizon
Constant and steady
You set my limbs locked hard afloat
Lifted my lonesome sails
The tide is out, the moon is high
Darling, your love is healing
It makes the bitter sweet
Warms the winter to spring again
Secures the colds defeat
We’re cutting anchor
Casting out into the glorious deep
The tide is out, the moon is high
When we’ve succumb to decrepitude
Still our love will remain in its youth
The tide is out, the moon is high
Awwww….It's over too soon for me, but that's because I'm a sappy girl. Dating will do that to you (hopefully…).
"Crows and Locusts" is a vindicating song and you can hear the suffering of the characters from the words and Brooke's tone and delivery. She describes it as a subject matter which is very close to her heart. I don't want to make any assumptions about just what that is, but if you listen to the lyrics you can pick up the pain the song holds. This is Brooke's favorite song off the album and is the result of diligence and growth as a songwriter. This image breaks my heart every time: "'Daddy don't cry, it'll be alright'/ She puts some water on the wound/ And hums a little tune/ While her courage puddles on the ground/ Pooling, pooling." It's finished off with a short rendition of "Nothing But the Blood," which promises some hope after the sadness of "Crows and Locusts."
"Here's to You" is a compilation of many artists offering their legacy to the listener. I guess a lot of Brooke's friends and her whole band played/sang in this song. "This is my legacy/ Cheers to you." I played this for the bf on his birthday. It's like a pub song and reminds me of the end of It's a Wonderful Life before the angel gets his wings.
I don't know, that's just what I think of.
The title track of the album is a continuation of the title track of Brooke's last album. She said that writing "Albertine" led to many questions about why bad things happen to good people, why innocent people suffer under the wicked, etc. Her answer, she said, is, "I don't know" (which she sings five time throughout the song). The song starts off with, "I'm not your answer/ But I'm a listening ear." This song reminds me that sinful human nature is often the cause of the pain in the world- "Good intentions lie dormant/ And we're all to blame…While apathy acts like an ally/ My enemy and I are one and the same…I don't know why our words are so proud/ Yet their promise so thin…". It's so true! Why do we do this to ourselves and one another?
No soapbox rants today.
"Flags" is a beautiful expression of a honest answer that ends with comforting quotes from the Beatitudes.
The last song off the Deluxe Version of Flags is "You Can Close Your Eyes," originally written and performed by James Taylor circa 1971. I have always really really liked this song. It's the best lullaby. I saw James in concert years ago and saw him perform this and it was amazing! Ya, I'm one of those born and raised Taylor fans. There aren't many of us ;)
This song is so comforting, but it's gone to a new level of soothing as a duet featuring William Fritzsimmons and acoustic guitar(s). So simple and sweet.
Ok, I honestly can't say enough good stuff about this album. I'm so impressed. I highly recommend it and Albertine. Check it out :)