In the middle of Old Gray’s sophomore album, Slow Burn, the band gives the floor over to New Hampshire-based performance artist William James, who recites a poem about a suicide attempt and the subsequent inpatient treatment and efforts to get better. Towards the end of the recitation, as the Cameron Boucher-led band starts to swell around the edges of the poem, he reads: “You look at all the scars, the history etched into your arms like a road map/ Of where you used to be vs. the endless possibilities/ Of where you are and where you can go now.”
Slow Burn is a stormy and intense expression of anger, frustration, and confusion in the wake of watching your loved ones take or attempt to take their own lives. “I wish this record didn’t have to be written,” the band writes in the liner notes of the album. In just a little over 20 minutes, Old Gray capture the profound feelings of helplessness and grief, the dead air and white-hot noise that billow around these situations that are entirely out of our control.
Penultimate song “A Letter For Zach” is a sweeping eulogy to a lost friend that doubles as an affirmation to keep on fighting: “I don’t want to close my eyes anymore,” Boucher declares. “I want to be whole again/ How the fuck do I get there?” Slow Burn doesn’t provide any easy answer to that question, but it does stand as a document of where you can go after reaching the brink, a lifeline out. Listen below.
12/09 Pomona, CA @ VLHS
12/16 Philadelphia, PA @ Everybody Hits
12/17 Brooklyn, NY @ Shea Stadium
12/18 Cambridge, MA @ Democracy Center