people are fragile
LABEL: Flood Music (Chicago)
RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2019
FOR FANS OF: Singer-songwriters with jazz and folk influences (Becca Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Laura Mvula)
PERSONNEL: Ashley Daneman, voice: all tracks; Rob Clearfield, piano/wurlitzer/organ: all tracks except 3, 7; Rufus Ferguson, piano: 3, 7; Andrew Vogt, electric bass: all tracks except 3, 7; Quinlan Kirchner, drums: 1, 4, 5, 6, 10; Makaya McCraven, drums: 2, 8, 9, 12; Matt Gold, guitar/lap steel: 1, 4, 5, 6, 10; Kevin Bujo Jones, percussion: 8
Ashley Daneman Sings About Pain, Recovery, Rebirth
On Bold New Album People Are Fragile
Kintsugi is the Japanese craft of repairing a broken object with gold, thus making it stronger. The hallmark of kintsugi is that the repairs are visible. The beauty of the reborn object derives from the patterns of its fractures, rather than from an effort to hide them. On People Are Fragile, singer-songwriter Ashley Daneman offers up her pain and healing in ways both visible and audible, inviting the listener to celebrate what humans can become even after they’ve broken.
“I’ve had a lot of grief and loss over the past few years,” Daneman said, “and I was very in touch with my fragility. My previous album, Beauty Indestructible, was about surviving and being strong. I realized that, to heal even further, I had to become vulnerable again.”
People Are Fragile, released on the artist-owned Flood Music label, features eight original compositions, two spirituals with pianist Rufus Ferguson, and one song from Gershwin’s Porgy And Bess. The entire album feels very exposed and intimate, like a deep, late-night conversation between old friends who don’t spare each other’s feelings.
“When a glass breaks in your kitchen it breaks everywhere,” Daneman said. “Some pieces are easy to pick up and put in the trash. The other pieces are fine and needle-like and around for years and years. This album is what my life is like, and I offer it up in solidarity with anyone else who feels the same.”
People Are Fragile was recorded primarily in Chicago by a stellar band made up of pianist Rob Clearfield (Fareed Haque, Grazyna Auguscik); bassist Andrew Vogt (Ernie Watts); drummers Quinlan Kirchner (Wild Belle) and Makaya McCraven (Bobby Broom, Marquis Hill); and guitarist and lap steel player Matt Gold (Sun Speak, Storm Jameson; Gold is also one of the owners of Flood Music). Also appearing are Ferguson and percussionist Bujo Kevin Jones (Whitney Houston, The Isley Brothers). Takes were recorded live, with all musicians in one room and no punched in corrections.
“I just wanted to make something honest, and I think that was a really good place to be,” Daneman said. “I was very influenced by two albums: Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, in terms of the role of the bass and pedal steel and the songwriting; and also Laura Mvula’s album Sing To The Moon, which is one of those albums that when you hear it, you feel it was made just for you and you want to absorb every piece of it. She has a lot of layering and vocal harmonies and that really spoke to me as well.”
Much of Daneman’s previous work has incorporated explicit or implicit references to her religious faith, and at first listen People Are Fragile seems to as well. Like much in her life, however, Daneman’s faith has undergone a transformation: “I’ve shifted much more faith into myself and into my own power, versus a religious map. I wouldn’t say that I’ve lost any of my spirituality, but I’ve shifted where my faith lies and what I’m emphasizing. There was a period of reckoning where I questioned my tidy view of how things are.”
People Are Fragile is anything but tidy. Like the Japanese craft that inspired its cover image, it’s an album of shining beauty made from the real fault lines of life. It’s a mature, honest and fearless record, and it signals the next big step in the musical career of Ashley Daneman.
COMPLETE TRACK LISTING w/LYRICS
1. I ALONE LOVE THE UNSEEN IN YOU (A. Daneman) 6:24
I alone love the unseen in you, and it shall not fade away. Wandered down to get your love. I couldn’t find the wonders of you. I’m here for you. I’m near to you. Come, let me comfort you. Won’t you come out of the rain now, come. Stop your pacing in the trees. It’s gonna be alright if you just come inside with me. I found you here. I drove you home just to find a place you own. And I was the one who loved you best. You know I’m always covering you, comforting you, coming to you, my whole life.
I alone love the unseen in you, and it shall not fade away. It’s dry in here. The music’s on. Come and be my favorite song. I need the rest of you, it’s true. What do I do when you can’t come in from the rain and you won’t be less than insane? And I can’t hold you deeper than this. You know, I won’t insist.
I alone love the unseen in you, and it shall not fade away. I alone, I love the unseen. There’s just a part and it’s just unseen. It’s just right here and it’s underneath. Oh, I love the unseen in you. It’s just a part, it’s right here. I alone love you. I’m always comforting you, coming to you, covering you, all my life. I’m always covering you.
2. IF I KNEW WHO I WAS (A. Daneman) 4:23
If I knew who I was I’d be here to stay. If I knew who I was. If I knew who I was I’d be found out. All the people in town would come out and say, “There she goes, there’s the one she’s found.” [Oh, oh, oh] There’s no denying something else will happen after this. And, I don’t like not knowing, but I used to when I was younger. And life was a lot less full, and life was a lot more free. I knew who I wasn’t, that was all I needed be. That was all. [Oh, oh, oh] There’s no denying I was made for something. And now I’m thinking it’s more than just this one thing. There’s no denying I was made for someones. Oh, and I wanna let it begin. I wanna let it begin, I wanna let it in, yeah. I wanna let it begin!
Something’s gonna come now, some wind is gonna blow and I hope it’s heavy and I hope it’s slow. And I feel the breath in my teeth and my hair and I get down, get down. Oh, I get down, get down.
3. SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A MOTHERLESS CHILD (Traditional) 6:35
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long way from home. Sometimes I feel like I’m almost gone, and I know my time’s not long. Sometimes I feel like I’m heaven bound, and I wear a golden crown. Sometimes I feel like my soul it’s on fire, and I’m about to fly. Even though I was a motherless child. No matter, no matter. Even though, watch me fly high. Watch me fly high.
4. WHEN YOU BREAK (A. Daneman) 6:30
This song is all I need to come home, whether it’s been too far or too long. The melody will guide me where I’ve gone wrong. In these trialed travels I’ve been down them roads and back again. Trying to run and trying to get back in. There is a single sound in the world that can’t be broken. There is a single sound in the world that can’t be stolen away…and it will be here when you break.
5. SHAKE IT ALL DOWN (A. Daneman) 3:10
The devil makes me crazy with his cheap, cheap lies - the kind that take me down on a spiral inside. Do I love what I lose, do I lose what I dare? The problem with defeat is that you just don’t care. Oh, and it’s sick how they break; It’s sick how they burn, but that’s how you’re paid letting evil get a turn. Would not tell you what I did not know, but this way or that way everybody’s got to go. [Oh, oh oh] Well, shake it all down, shake it down to little bits: the time you got ugly, the time you called it quits. It’s a dare if you do and it’s a dare if you don’t, but somebody else will, if you won’t. Sing, oh, oh oh! Well, I may not be rich, but I’ll never be poor. My body’s listened well to the story at it’s core. So, I sit right down in the middle of my faith. No time to linger, no time to wait. [Oh, oh, oh]
6. DADDY’S GONNA DIE SOON (A. Daneman) 1:39
Daddy’s gonna die soon. He’s more than 80 years. Oh, Daddy. I might have called you “Daddy” once, ‘cause I didn’t know no different. I didn’t know no difference. Oh!
7. DEEP RIVER (Traditional) 5:06
Deep river, my home is over Jordan. Deep river, Lord. I want to cross over into campground. Oh, don’t you want to go to that gospel feast, that promised land where all is peace? Deep river, Lord. My home is over Jordan. Oh, deep river, Lord.
Well, you know I wanna cross over. I’ve been thinking about it, yeah, I wanna. You know I think I wanna cross over. [Gonna cross over, gonna cross] Been spending my time now thinking about it. I think I’m gonna cross over, yeah. I’m not gonna stay on this side, I’m gonna cross over. I may not know much about the other side, but I’m gonna go over and I’m gonna see what I see, I’m gonna do what I do, and I’m gonna cross over. Gonna cross! Gonna swim! Gonna fly! Gonna cross over, yeah! Gonna do what I gotta do to cross over. Gonna do what I gotta do.
8. MY MAN’S GONE NOW (Gershwin/Heyward) 5:05
My man’s gone now, ain’t no use in listening for his tired footsteps climbing up the stairs. Old man Sorrow’s come to keep me company, whispering beside me when I say my prayers. [Ah, ah, ah] Ain’t that I mind working, work and me is travelers. Journeying together to the promised land. But, old man Sorrow’s marching all the way with me, he’s telling me I’m old now since I lose my man. [Ah, ah, ah] Old man Sorrow is sitting by the fireplace, lying all the night beside me in the bed.
Telling me the same things [Tellin’ me] Morning noon and evening [Morning, noon, evening] That I’m all alone now [All alone] now that my man is dead. Dead! Since my man is dead.
9. THE FEELING OF HEAVY (A. Daneman) 3:46
I went down to the end of the road and I left my heavy load, but I’m gonna come back for it someday. And I’m gonna make sure it’s there. But, I left my heavy load down there. ‘Cause it’s treason to carry a load like that but it’s treason to let it go. So, I’m gonna come back for it someday. And, I’m gonna make sure it’s there. But, I left my heavy load down there. Say it once and say it twice, I need to hear your okay voice telling me it’s okay, “run, and get out of here.”
Well, you laced it up on my back real tight when I was just a little thing. So, I grew up strong under the weight so heavy. You said, “Girl, this has been passed way down, way down now. From generation to generation. And, it was mine and it’s yours so get used to the feeling of heavy.” Say it once and say it twice, I need to hear my okay voice say, “it’s okay, go on run, and get out of here.” Go, you’re free. Go play. Get out of here now. You’re free, go play. We’re done here you’re going out to play.
10. PICTURES IN THE ATMOSPHERE (A. Daneman) 5:18
There is a flow. It’s where I must go to now. Now that years have rolled on so far from what I know. How can I hold on to pictures on the riverbank of time? [Oh, oh, oh] There is a flow. It’s where I must go to now. Now that dreams have gone on high, hiding in the sky. How can I hold on to pictures in the atmosphere of mine? [Oh, oh, oh]
11. DID ANYONE EVER SOW YOU A LIE? (A. Daneman) 5:59
Did anyone ever sow you a lie into your skin, close to your heart, right at the start? Right at the start… Did anyone ever teach you a tune you know wasn’t yours? All through and through, it wasn’t you. It wasn’t you. No, it wasn’t. It wasn’t you. This tune; it wasn’t you. So take your peace and lie it all out now, take your peace on your own, take your peace and lie it all out on you now. It’s yours; you’re home. Take your peace and lie it all out now. Take your peace on to your grave ‘cause it’s yours alone.
RECALL (A. Daneman) 4:09
What are you so afraid of? Is it the nothingness you sometimes feel? And, what are you so afraid of? Is it emptiness you sometimes feel? Is it the passing of time, like a torch burning so bright; but like it never was yours. What they can’t take from you, you can’t buy it out there. Out there! But, oh when I see the glory in your eyes, time and again it recalls me. Recall.