Sloan Wainwright’s latest album, Life Grows Back, is a collection of observational thoughts that, while from the viewpoint of the singer-songwriter, could just as easily be from any one of us. As we grow, we develop longings and regrets. Those things usually begin springing up in our beings as we near an older age and haunt us until our final breath. We’ve heard many variances amongst singer-songwriters over the ages but they all cover the same ground. Themes like identity development, death, deep flowing fears of non-accomplishments, and life fulfillments and completions, occupy us. We hear our frustrations in words sung, we see it displayed in countless films and have it whispered to us in the words of books.
Wainwright’s recent life evaluations sprints off at the sound of the starting bell with her “When I Walk Away,” a song that has the subject leaving a previous life because of a need unrelated to the actions of the partner, instead a compelling feeling that darkly occupies many of our own thoughts. In Sloan’s familiar contralto voice, there’s a depth that is not unlike a refreshing pool that we feel very comfortable in even if that pool reflects our feelings. On “Between the Lines,” she sings about faith in the point at where you are in your life to help move you forward despite the elements that you find yourself entrenched in. In “These Are The Day,” there is a call to shed the fears of our lives and let our real longings be known.
With a country/folk flavour to the music, these songs gain a down home familiarity. Sloan has her finger on the pulse of middle age, where there are doubts and uncertainties. As well, she also has sage advice on how to weather some of those moments and trips. Consider the warmly titled Life Grows Back, as not only a beautifully sung collection of bluesy, folk-like tunes with a bluegrass underpinning, but also as a selection of understanding words.
Many of Sloan’s words have purpose of liberation. Carole King once sang of the same desires in her wonderful “Sweet Seasons.” In that song, she sings, “…All Around the block, people will talk. But I want to give it all that I’ve got, I just don’t want to waste it…” Sloan sings with the same conviction and longing and perhaps more.
Many of us have songs like these in our beings. Unlike Sloan, we just haven’t put music to them yet.