Depression and desolation fit neatly into the cracks of the lives we have endured throughout the past year, and in bizarre moments of reminiscence, the uncanny of our own lives can be both a looking glass and a ghost. Paola Bennet ushers us into her reflections for a few changing moments throughout “My Mother Says,” and it feels like a gift of generosity to be let in.
“And my mother says being sad sometimes is alright” is a line that seems like a thesis, until it is followed by the musings, “how do I tell her it’s a constant haze, it’s always. It’s the sky breaking over me all the time.” The ache of the delivery in these words hurts to hear, but their honesty and clarity mean too much to ignore. To be seen and to be understood in these moments of pain are sometimes rare blessings, and can seem like insurmountable challenges when eluded by those we hold close. Bennet’s guitar work lopes through her words like a determined, if wounded, animal, juxtaposing her lyrics in a hushed accompaniment that lets them breathe while also setting a quiet place to lie while listening. There is a melancholy hope in its gradual rise that echoes the push of the songs faster sections.
In these, there is a defined tempo and rhythm change- drums enter the picture, the lyrics press on into other possibilities. “I wanna hit the walls until they break” and “I want an inch of kindness, but I know that if I want to find it / I’ll have to bear my throat. How can I?” are images that render triumph not in achievement but in pursuit, in determination, in questioning. Ghosts of the past are echoed in the sampling of a younger Bennet with her mother, responding to this call, and the tonal circles of her story begin again, moving further through her world. And, as in life, the best thing we can do during this journey is listen.
“My Mother Says” is out now, and very much worth your time. Don’t miss it.
Review by Bobby Guard