In a somewhat unusual move for a blues album, singer-songwriter Sarah Levecque tells the listener right up front that it's all going to be OK.
“Please believe it’s all temporary/a lapse in time,” she sings on “Circle Back Around,” the opening track of her album, “Moments of Silver,” “Oh don’t backtrack now/If you missed something this time/Cause it's all, gonna circle back around.” It's a quietly reflective song, dressed up in contemporary country stylings, and Levecque's vocals are measured and smoky, imbuing each line with a sense of urgency, and Peter Zarkadas' electric guitar gives the song a sort of necessary groundedness.
It's an easy song to lose one's self in, but it's one worth keeping in mind as the album unfolds and Levecque's persona digs deeper into the blues, beginning immediately with the roots-flavored “Dead Center, Head On.” Here, Johnny Sciascia's honky-tonk upright bass and Scott Sherman's percussion evoke a sort of old-time country blues feeling, one that gives Leveque's persona's sense of listlessness a solid counterpoint. It's a song about wrestling with a sense of emptiness, one that's conveyed vocally in the curl in the singer's voice as she delivers lines such as, “Gimme somethin’ solid and heavy now/to lay my convictions down.”
But Levecque and band take a great care to build a musical foundation for that emotion, one which gives the listener something solid to hold onto, even as the album's persona seems to be searching for much the same. As the album rolls into the spare and melancholy title track, that sense of wanting and searching burbles to the surface, and it's simultaneously hopeful and indelibly sad.
The song “Go With It” shakes up the album's vibe with a thick, honky-tonk meets boogie-woogie blues sound that's peppered with great instrumental moments, from layered electric guitar lines from both Levecque and Zarkadas to a striking piano roll from Jim Sullivan. It's a great song for shaking out the jams, but it also sets the stage for the subsequent, “Dissatisfaction Got You Down,” which conjures about as classic of a blues feel as one can imagine.
“Like a stonemason/You build your wall from your misery,” sings Levecque, “When your mortar turns to dust/Better let it crumble/to your feet.” The songwriter's excavation into the emotional abyss continues in the next song, “Good For Nothing, Good For Now,” where she sings, “I wanna feel the wind coming outta nowhere cold/Cause nowhere, is where I’m headed,” but it's here that the album pivots a bit, because even amid the song's sense of destitution, the persona finds a moment of self-respect: “I might be good for nothin'/But I’m good for now.”
The bad times pass. The good times come back around again. Levecque told us this right at the top of the album, but it's something the persona is learning the hard way, in real time. The shift in tone is palpable, though, and informs the outstretched hand of “Keep a Line Open” and the sense of hope amid the darkness that burns in “Rolling Over the Cracks.” The first song rings with a bit of resignation, but still refutes hopelessness. “Your path has narrowed/And is now overgrown,” sings Levecque, “Even though you stumble/You still know where to go.” The latter has a heavier feel – a moodiness created in large part by Zarkadas' electric guitar and bass – but the sense of forward movement in Levecque's vocals cuts through the despair. “Is it tragedy or disorder,” she sings, “Is it what's waiting behind/Black windows/Or down the dark corridors/It’s all been off the tracks./Somehow we gotta keep rollin’/over the cracks.”
The album simmers to an end with the wistful “Blues Keep Me Company,” which feels like a counterpoint to the opening track. “I’ve got a new way, of relatin’/Not holding out, for big news,” sings Levecque, “Cause around every corner, the same thing is waiting/Just another way to lose.”
There's a sense of resignation in her voice that's almost palpable, but even as the persona sinks deeper into the blues, it's hard to reach this point in the album and not think back to the beginning: “Oh don’t backtrack now/If you missed something this time/Cause it's all, gonna circle back around.”
Levecque told us at the beginning we'd be here, that we've been here before, and that this too shall pass. It doesn't really make it easier in the moment though, does it? When you're alone with the blues, sometimes they're all you can see, even when you know there's more than that ahead. Clearly, that's something Levecque knows, too: that no amount of foreknowledge makes the blues any more bearable.