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A sweetly-sung acoustic number about married parents trying to recapture the old spark by heading to a dive motel, popping a box of wine, and pretending to have anonymous sex:

     So let’s leave the kids at home
    You wear that blouse I’ll wear cheap cologne
    Throw away our wedding bands
    I want to be your one night stand

I can’t decide if the melody reminds me more of Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman” or Springsteen’s “I Wanna Marry You,” but the scenario I recognize from a Modern Family episode, the one where Phil and Claire on Valentine’s Day attempt to act like they’ve just met in a hotel bar. Phil and Claire’s role play is upwardly mobile–they take on the names “Clive” and “Julianna”–but Messersmith has his protagonist opt for the tawdry, which seems more potentially effective to me in terms of relationship revitalization but that may just be a matter of personal taste. “I’m just a guy with a minivan,” he says, which doesn’t sound like the sexiest come-on, but did remind me of the Elizabeth Cook song where she says her boyfriend’s El Camino is creepy not in a gangsta kind of way, but in a perv kind of way. Can this guy make his Honda Odyssey strike the same pervy note? It would depend on the woman, I guess.

Ths song’s from a strong recent album called Heart Murmurs. I’d never heard of Messersmith before; in the sleeve photo he looks about 15 years old and slightly Not Of This Earth. The Internet tells me he’s big in Minneapolis and has been knocking around for ten years or so, and had more record company financial suport for this album than on previous ones and considers it his shot at the big time. The production is appropriately over the top with go-for-broke knob twiddling that reminded me of David Mead’s Tangerine, another album that was supposed to be a national catapult for a regional artist. Didn’t work out for David, but maybe it will for Jeremy. There are a few songs here, such as “Tourniquet,” that are really catchy.

Lyrically, it’s an album of love songs by someone who seems to have a strong contrarian streak about writing love songs. In one the guy is in love with a woman in love with another guy who the narrator is sure is going to break her heart; in another, the guy is in love with a woman in a relationship with another guy, whose heart the narrator is sure the woman is going to break. In yet another, the guy is actually in a relationship but just biding his time before he inevitably breaks the woman’s heart “like a promise.” Other songs feature a gay guy offering physical comfort to a straight best friend whose heart has just been broken (maybe, but I wouldn’t hold my breath) and a gay woman seriously crushing on a straight woman even through the woman’s wedding ceremony. (“It’s Only Dancing,” and no, there’s absolutely no contextual evidence it’s a gay woman singing the song and in fact a few lines–“clip on tie and a sweater vest”–that contradict that interpretation but I just think it’s so much more sad and interesting a song if you picture a woman singing it.) The two most positive songs are in the future tense, offers but not realities.

Come to think of it, this song is in the future tense, too. Will our married couple actually get a babysitter and make it to that motel room with the worn carpet? Maybe, or maybe just the offer will be titillating and flattering enough. One of the great, hard-won wisdoms about marriage is how often it’s the thought that counts.

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