Back tracks: Meteors & Beating Hearts, by Connor Garvey (2014)

Interior of Meteors & Beating Hearts album jacket, showing stylized watercolor of Connor Garvey against starry background, with CD half-protruding from its sleeve.When you need this album: You crave the gentle good feelings of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, only addressing your adult problems.

Musical style: Guitar-driven folk-rock with strong funk/jazz undertones and positive, thoughtful lyrics.

Spotify – Buy from artist site

Connor Garvey’s 2014 Kickstarter-funded album, Meteors and Beating Hearts, is the affirmation you need of a universe that may be random, but is not hostile. I grabbed it off my shelf of CDs that I got in a bag of 12 at the Connecticut Folk Festival, and it turned out to be ideal inspiration for starting a new year and a new blogging project (most particularly because I was shuffling around with yet another cold, and this album is orange juice for the soul).

It’s a pleasant Sunday-brunch listen if you want to go straight through — tackling inspiration, feelings of insignificance, wear-and-tear, and finding your way through life.

Favorite track: “Bite That Tastes Good”
This one has the most overt funk — it’ll have you dancing around the kitchen in your footie pajamas as you make your French toast. It’ll also have you joyously re-evaluating the question of how to live your best life.

Least favorite track: “Charlie”
Charlie works spreadsheets all day, as I do in my paid job. Artsy types always want to cast people with office jobs as doing meaningless, soul-sucking work, which I don’t buy into (a good financial statement reads like poetry). On the other hand, the melody on “in the world outside, it’s snowing lightly,” is delightfully seductive.

Most New England moment: “Old House”
The initial lyric sounds like a literal paean to the old houses in New England (“looks like hell in the wrong light / she’s a beauty and a beast” describes significant portions of New Haven, and probably your town, too). Then it turns out that “our love is an old house.” The song keeps unwinding through forests of metaphor that draw heavily on experiences that New Englanders have in our bones.

Album cover for Meteors & Beating Hearts, showing Van Gogh-style landscape with moon and mostly bare tree.Most clever lyrical twist: “Insignificance”
The song starts as a standard, if cheerfully jazzy, meditation on how we’re all insignificant in relation to the vast universe. And then, there’s this: “Baby, if I’m a speck, you’re a speck, too / Let’s make spectacular love, just me and you.” It gets adorable from there.

In his official bio, Maine-based Garvey notes that he wrote most of the songs as part of participation in his local songwriting group. Given how often songwriters promote the “my best song came in a blinding flash of inspiration and I wrote it in three minutes” narrative, I am charmed by Garvey’s willingness to imply method and self-discipline play some role in his process.

Back Tracks puts a spotlight on music in my collection that’s not a new release. It may be a used CD, an EP I’ve been slow to get to, or a track from a couple years ago that I think didn’t get enough love. 

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