“As a songwriter, my number one job is to observe and then translate what I observe into a song, a story, a lesson,” Barham shares. “I’d be doing myself and the listener a huge disservice if I didn’t talk about the things I see, which is a country, divided.”
The album’s title emerged long before the concept of this album came to be. Having been raised as a Southern Baptist, he was exposed to a passage in the Old Testament which drives his take on this album.
“Lamentations is one of the few books in the Bible where there’s this doubt of God –– this guy, crying out to the heavens, like, ‘Why? If you love us so much, why did you let Jerusalem fall to Babylon?’” Barham shares that he saw a “direct correlation between that and a Southern man today who voted for Trump. [Barham] wanted to write about a broken America and all the things that lead a human being to doubt something.
He continued, explaining that he wanted to talk about the “dark shadows that we don’t want to talk about in the south.” He’s able to tell a clear and relatable story through his songwriting. A story that holds truth and humanity. “I’ve had to work really hard to carry water as a songwriter,” he says. “It feels really good to be in my mid-30s, writing songs that I think matter. I think when you listen to this record, something is going to change in you. You’re going to feel something. That’s the most important part of songwriting: making someone feel.”
“Me + Mine (Lamentations)” is nothing short of an intense story pertaining to the ‘American Dream’, or rather, what the ‘American Dream’ is at this time. The song is relevant to the political climate we’re in, without losing the emotional touch that music offers us.
“Before The Dogwood Blooms” is another example of the band’s stellar songwriting abilities that many musicians should strive to have. Their personal views on the world are on blast for all of us to hear but it is told through an unbiased lense that we all can understand.
Another song that resonated with me is “Six Years Come September,” especially in the lyrics. “As a songwriter, that’s the best feeling in the world––ruining someone with lyrics and a well-executed story,” Barham says. Well, I can say for sure you did exactly that.
“Starts With You” blends beautiful country songwriting with a modern twist for the perfect creation! This song, along with almost every other one, is all so relatable on so many levels, but without blending too much together to where they can’t be distinguished from the others.
Bringing a feeling of nostalgia is “Brightleaf + Burley.” Once again, they throw me for a massive loop by introducing a very refreshing ending of retro meets futuristic that isn’t present anywhere else in their music!
While this song shines light down memory lane, “The Luckier You Get” really puts me in the NOW. It feels like an anthem to remember that YOU are in control of your future and that “the harder you work, the luckier you get.”
“The Day I Learned To Lie To You” feels the most personal to Barham of all the others. “[The Day I Learned To Lie To You] was one of the first songs I played for the boys in the band, and they were like, ‘Are you sure you want to record that?’” Barham goes on to say that “it’s a hard song to talk about. It’s a heavy song. For better or worse, I’m going to be real with you live. I’m probably going to make you uncomfortable. And that I think that’s a beautiful part of rock-and-roll.” I wish I had more to say about this song, but the quote before really puts it together perfectly.
“Still arguing the difference between heritage and hate” from the song “A Better South” is hands down the most memorable lyric yet, and the rising of humanity and mankind is resurrected in this song.
“How Wicked I Was” is another personal song from Barham in which he “pleads for narrative omissions when it comes to explaining his past to his little girl.”
Closing out the album is their final song, “Long Haul.” Let me just say that there couldn’t have been a better choice for an ending to an album. There’s so much honesty and soul that drenches this piece and brings not only Barham’s life choices full circle, but the reason for the creation of Lamentations as well.
Lamentations is a powerhouse of emotions. There isn’t a moment of insincerity in their words, nor is there any moment that feels misleading. Barham becomes an “important American voice- and an unlikely peacemaker.” There are moments of brutal honesty and openness about conversations that we should be having. The only mistake? I didn’t know this band sooner! American Aquarium has gained yet another loyal fan, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing true songwriting to the surface.
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