Music with healing power
Laura Jane Grace’s newest solo album, Stay Alive, is a welcomed surprise. The Against Me! frontwoman’s album channels all the feelings that come with a pandemic and just generally 2020, so the title Stay Alive is very fitting. There are 14 tracks on the album, and every one is different while having the sophisticated style that Grace executes so well. Her voice is magical and elevates the magnificent lyrics even more. On her Bandcamp site, Grace explains how this album is actually no surprise; she’s been working on the songs for two years, even though she thought now, with the pandemic, the songs might never get released, “But then I was like, ‘What am I waiting for?’ All I have to do is adjust my scope. I can sit here on my fucking ass and do nothing, or I can work.”
Even though the album has quite a long list of tracks, it is rather short with a playtime of only 30 minutes, but in true punk fashion, a message can be sent across in just a few short minutes, especially if it’s mainly acoustic. Songs like “Blood & Thunder” show the extraordinary songwriting skills of Grace. This is especially shown in the verse, “I’d rather have a great wide open up in front of me/ Than a big nothing fills my heart with its need/ When you give in and quit/ There’s a power to be found in it.” These lyrics, combined with Grace’s vocals and a lonely acoustic guitar, give the song an intimate atmosphere.
People might think while reading the title “Shelter in Place” that Grace wrote it in 2020 during the everlasting quarantine, but in an interview with Rolling Stone, Grace clarifies she wrote the song during December 2018 and January 2019, when she had some medical complications and had to quarantine. It is still a very fitting title today, and the song can cheer up the audience’s very own quarantine. “SuperNatural Possession” offers a light-hearted and very catchy pop-like love song, but don’t get too used to this light-hearted fun. “Hanging Tree” is a strong anti-trump, anti-white supremacy song. Sarcastic lyrics with powerful vocals make this song another standout on Stay Alive. “Old Friend (Stay Alive)” is a calm, sensitive song and the perfect album-ender. Listeners might even shed a tear, thinking about an old friend.
Two years in the making, and yet a surprise drop, but there’s no surprise that the album is another great record by the one and only Laura Jane Grace. When everything feels hard and exhausting, it feels good to get new music like Stay Alive because it has healing powers.