Songs for the Bereaved
Since the beginning music has been used to tell stories. From opera to modern day Broadway musicals, the premise has stayed the same though the style of delivery has changed. Canadian hip hop producer Factor has recruited an array of artists to perform not just as mere musicians but to transform into characters who tell their tales in his latest venture, Woke up Alone.
In a nutshell, Woke Up Alone tells the story of a widower dealing with the loss of his wife. The album is broken up into 5 scenes, following the stages of grief and loss. The album begins with the title track, which, compared with the rest of the album, is upbeat. It expresses the feelings of the morning and waking up; the first 30 seconds would make a great tone for an alarm clock. “The Empire has Fallen,” featuring Kirby Dominant of Paranoid Castle, follows and brings forth a different type of mourning. Part eulogy, part anger-fueled monologue, this track does a great job of setting the tone for what is yet to come.
The remainder of the album follows the widower as he seeks help from a doctor, a medicine man and a psychiatrist. Along the way, his wife’s ghost, the devil and his own conscious also show up. Each character is represented by a different artist, pulling the story along until, finally, our protagonist reaches acceptance. Each individual artist gives his all and Factor has woven a beautiful musical tapestry that just doesn’t just hide in the background but plays an intricate part in advancing the story.
This is an album that really can’t be dissected track by track but, rather, taken in as a whole. In an age of cherry-picking MP3s to put on your iPhone or digital musical player of choice, these types of tracks often get lost in the shuffle, which is sad because from beginning to end Woke Up Alone tells a story better than most major motion pictures.