(Dismal Niche, 2016)
Prairie life, the wilderness, Middle America, the heartland. ’Cross the plains the dream is golden, the memories sepia, the world turns, and the world forgets. Sure, maybe time moves slower in Missouri, maybe porches are made for lengthy reminiscence instead of quick smoke breaks, but maybe those Missourians have it right after all. An entire state glances south to the Ozarks, the I-90 corridor obscuring the simpler life hidden down state highways and along the edges of national parks. They overlook, though, in their obsession with strip malls and parking lots, that without the moments of peace and solitude these places allow comes a slow decay of the human spirit, a spirit divorced from the land and survival. It’s important, then, to remember somehow that spirit, now haggard and used, crumpled in a corner, and if it can’t be reinvigorated, then it must at least be preserved. Nevada Greene’s “Earthquake Hollow” quivers with emotion as guitar and strings stretch themselves across an unnerved public psyche, a desperate security blanket in an age of deep social uncertainty. Scott Tuma responds with “All the Ragged Glory,” appropriately titled as acoustic guitar (and banjo?) scratch out what sounds like a Civil War–era hymn (or at least what James Horner would imagine a “Civil War–era hymn” would sound like if a cue called for one in a film), recalling the period of our country’s deepest fracture followed by its greatest reconciliation (on some levels, anyway). It mourns the passing of time and implores us to reflect on our history and our future. Strings buoy it to its conclusion, past heartache impelling new hope in future generations. New life, children, family, personal rebirth – all swirl together in the passages of Ragged Hollow, a detailed statement bridging coasts, connecting humans across great distance, and celebrating the vastness of our lives without the confines we place upon them.