Review: “Life Goes On” by Diamondtown

Review by Jackie Stanley

Rifting, gliding. Forever forgetting what we’ve so often been told. There are nuances to both depression and joy: subtle inflections of voice and shifting of weight both physical, and metaphysical.

KC Spidle is no stranger to dark subject matter. Since his days as a drummer in The Hold, Made In The World, and Dog Day right through his seamless debut as a solo songwriter via Husband & Knife and half of the duo Air/Fire (which also featured longtime collaborator and studio genius Evan Cardwell). From the ballsy yet wankless slow-punk of Bad Vibrations (again with Cardwell) through to his newest record, Life Goes On, Spidle tells it like it is. Not the parts we all know, necessarily. The things we leave unsaid; the tiny moments of weakness and defeat that might – in less adept hands – leave us feeling broken. He writes and sings them without shame, pairing them with amiable guitars, relentlessly listenable backing beats and ambient room sounds.

Realism abounds. Something always feels familiar, and enticing. Beckoning. Lyrics about devil’s dust, stealing shit, and hitting the deep end are delivered with a dulcimer ease that makes us want to listen. This album comes closer to the untouchable Elliott Smith than anything else Spidle has done, and it does so quietly. Unassuming. Just following its gut. Uplifting even as it deals with boggy feelings stuck down in the dreadful mire. Like ancestral spirit moths to a flame, those of us who’ve felt some pain – who’ve seen some shit – lock into this songwriting as soon as it alights.

There’s an era-less, genre-elusive appeal to this record. Album based rock, sure. Gothic easy listening, perhaps. A healthy masculinity – elusive in Western culture since the fall of partnership-based societies of millennia past – weaves its way through every note. The confessional lyrics offer a subconscious critique of the paternalistic, hierarchy based culture in which we presently find ourselves. Is there a way back out? Back up into the harmonious clouds?

Egos by the wayside, slapback delay, and jovially present reverb on everything. Clever moments of vocal panning and a relentless vintage drum machine that serves as a perfect symbol for the weathered artists behind this record. Confident in their own skins, determined to tell the whole truth, consistently, no matter how long it takes. They’re in no hurry, and neither are we by the time we’ve listened all the way through. We can tell something has shifted in our consciousness, ever-so-slightly. We feel gently renewed.

Chris Thompson (Eric’s Trip, The Memories Attack, Moonsocket) joins Diamondtown in their latest incarnation. We can’t wait to hear what this ‘town sounds like next.