A truly special song finds a way to stay with you, from the moment you first hear it. Sometimes, all it takes is a lyric; “You’re so nice and you’re so smart / You’re such a good friend I have to break your heart”.
Kimya Dawson’s beautiful little piece of naiveté, sung out with a childlike catch in her voice; something about that line will stick with you for years.
Music with a political tinge is seen less and less, but artists like Kimya Dawson are proving that a song can still be an instrument for protest with At The Seams.
As much as Dawson has a knack for lo-fi melodies, there are few lyricists who could match her particular style of writing. As both a solo artist, and as one half of the awesome Moldy Peaches, her scrappy and endearing stream of consciousness style never lacks substance.
Often evocative of childhood, the edge of surreality to her words could be the loose imaginings of a child, but they also touch something deep in a grown consciousness. And she brings that ability to bear in her latest track At The Seams.
Dawson has put five years into writing this track, as she addresses a subject so much bigger than the average song of love and loss. Now is also a particularly pertinent time for Dawson to unveil At The Seams, as the culmination of those five years sincerely matches up with the mood of a nation today.
The track expresses, and in some way explains, the sentiment of the Black Lives Matter movement, and is dedicated to those fighting for the cause.
Not that the movement is so recent, but it has been called into sharp relief this year with the highly publicised deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the others that have followed since.
At seven minutes in length, At The Seams is more in the nature of an address, but one that is channelled through that simplicity which makes Dawson’s lyrics so accessible.
She describes the sadness and tragedy behind the systematic racism inherent in both the system, and in everyday life in America. Set to a piano rather than her usual guitar, Dawson wrote the following to introduce the song;
“A new song that I wanted to just share with a few friends until I got a better recording and practiced some more, because I don’t play piano but it’s not a guitar song. I realized that this is how it is meant to be though. Sloppy and dark and raw and sad and mad.
“I spent 5 years writing it. It’s about messy messy things. All my love to the families and friends of the murdered and the many people fighting everyday for Black Lives and to end police brutality.”
The full lyrics to At The Seams can be read here, as expressed by Dawson herself, and they really are worth reading. Referencing Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous ‘dream’ in her refrain, a non-violent call to arms, the sentiment ‘black lives matter’ is an unapologetic statement – as it should be.
In very recent and unfortunate news, we heard Dawson has been forced to cancel her world tour dates, including those to Australia due to health issues. We hope she gets well soon, and that her schedule brings her down under in the future.