There is no ascension without movement, and no one moves unless compelled to do so. The second chapter of the Tedeschi Truck Band’s I am The Moon album series feels like it’s moving away from genre and expectation and aiming to spiritually elevate the lives of listeners. Drawing deeper than before on the emotional authority of a rotating moon, this album weaves a sonic narrative of inevitable change juxtaposed with lyrics that address feelings which all listeners will be familiar with.
The first words we hear form a question from the band’s lead vocalist, Susan Tdeschi: “How’s a man supposed to love a girl/ when she’s playin’ with my emotions?” Proceeded slightly by a soulful yet controlled guitar riff, as well as some muted but prominent brass instruments and a steady drum beat, this impressive synthesis of sound infused with urgency lets us know that we may not have a lot time before the overall tone of the song, like the singer’s emotions, shifts. Sure enough, by the time we get to the chorus of “don’t mind me I’m on my way/ ‘cause you’re playin’ with my emotions” the brass has already become fuller, and we know the singer’s central plight has found, and will continue to find, a complex resolution.
With a 2012 Grammy Award for the Best Blues Album, it’s not surprising that the music this band makes sounds and feels like it has spiritual elements to it. Spiritual in the literal way of “relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things,” but also in the sense of conversing with sources outside of the self in order to learn something new, maybe even to heal. If you’re into lyrics, you will note that this album hardly contains any mention of material objects, and if there are any mentioned, such as the garment and the ladder in “So Long Savior,” it’s only to reinforce an emotional argument.
The desire to transcend the problems caused by the physical world is at an all time high in “So Long Savior,” which easily makes it the best song on the album. With elements of a few distinct but incredibly similar genres like bluegrass, rock and roll, and gospel, the song makes heavy allusions to Jesus of the Christian Bible. The grand ascent of Jesus Christ into heaven happens on the 40th day after his resurrection, and this action ultimately strengthens the relationships between Jesus and his Father and his followers. So not only are there physical changes brought about by this ascension, but spiritual ones as well.
Tedeschi belts the lyrics: “So long savior/ I’ll be right behind/ Reaching for his garment/ Left us here to cry/ Should have seen it coming/ Fire in the sky.” There’s a clear lament for change here; it can’t feel too great to see the being you love move on without you, even when you know it’s the best case scenario for both of you. At the same time, there is a strong feeling of hope that a believer can also rise, that a person can become better by accepting what they’re spiritually lacking and following the example of someone divinely empathetic.
What else radiates divine empathy? The moon. It’s been said that moonlight is both reflective and receptive. Without the moon, our nights would be unmanageably dark and our days would be dangerously short. We need the pull of the moon to survive , just as we need the emotional support of sources outside of ourselves to grow into healthy and worthy humans. In the last song on the album, “Hold that line” the phrase “Don’t let go/hold that line” is repeated as a beautifully intricate melody plays on. Maybe this band makes such good music so that we can turn to it for comfort whenever we’re afraid of the changes in our lives, maybe listening to their music will also encourage us to embrace the changes in our lives. Whatever purpose this album was made for, it feels as essential as the moon.
Written by Michelle Everette