Song For Zula - Phosphorescent

from the album Muchacho (2013)

Some say love is a burning thing
And it makes a fiery ring
Oh, but I know love as a fading thing
Just as fickle as a feather in a stream

Whereas Johnny Cash fell into a burning ring of fire, Matthew Houck descends into a darker, more desolate space.  So opens Song For Zula, a six minute plus gem whose melody has haunted me over the past few months.

Several things come together on Song For Zula, making it a song that I keep coming back to.  It starts with how Matthew Houck delivers his beautiful lyrics with a voice that projects frailty and desperation coupled with confidence and determination.  You cannot write these qualities into a sheet of music, but having them there gives this song an authenticity that I really dig.

I also enjoy how the two keyboard tracks intertwine over the steady beat to create a swarming sensation that envelopes the vocals with great effect.  The first keyboard track is an ascending and descending orchestration track that flutters up and down creating the swarm.  The second is a piano track made up of long, sustained chords that evoke emotions around the vocals.  The choices in chord selection are phenomenal.  Together, these tracks create a tension that serves as the perfect backdrop to the vocals.

I have read that prior to recording this album, Matthew Houck travelled to Mexico and fell off the grid for a while.  This really seems to have served him well.  I believe that there are times when you really need to get away from it all to dig deep and discover inner truths.

This is the perfect song for sitting alone late at night, reflecting on stuff you do not have time to consider in the course of your busy life.

Click Here to watch the music video of this song.

Click Here to watch the band perform Song For Zula live at SXSW earlier this year.