“There’s a gentle art in saying goodbye.”
This single line aptly describes this emotional powerhouse of a song: a tale of two people at the end of a relationship, already looking back on it. That line is the best among many remarkable lyrical moments in “Brick And Mortar,” the latest single from Terra Spencer, featuring Stewart Legere. The story is told through a combination of direct and honest statements and striking imagery, much of it drawing metaphorically from the Cotton Mill in Spencer’s Windsor, NS hometown – a landmark textile mill that has crumbled and, recently, sustained a partially-collapsed roof.
“Brick And Mortar,” which was recorded live (and feels like it was), sets the scene on a cold Canadian morning, with “a whisper of blue” in the sky. The song goes on to tell of a dream that has crumbled like that building, asserting that “hearts can pound through brick and mortar” – “hearts too heavy for our hands to hold.” Entire scenes are painted in a few words with evocative lyrics, as the listener is left to ponder the poignancy of “a tear stain drying on a jacket sleeve.”
The song works masterfully as a duet, as Legere tells his side of the story, and then comes back to the same chorus lines that Spencer sang, but the same words hit differently because they are coming from an alternate perspective. It is as though the listener is invited into the conversation, to hear both sides of the story, and is left to draw their own conclusions.
The musical high points of the song happen back-to-back – the rich trombone sounds of Andrew Jackson usher in the last chorus, and then both Spencer and Legere sing the chorus together in a moving dynamic shift, and agree on the same concluding line: “I wanted more of us.” “Brick And Mortar” is purposefully sparse, proving that a good song doesn’t necessarily need ornamentation – just something honest to say, delivered credibly, with conviction.
Photo Credit: Sarah Kasprzak
Matt Wheeler is a Lancaster County, PA-based singer, songsmith, stage-banter conversationalist, husband, & special-needs father. And an avid vinyl record collector, a purveyor of random facts, & tour-er of Canada (southern Ontario is a favorite destination). Ever since being introduced to Great Lake Swimmers' music through Pandora in about 2009, he has had an appreciation for Canadian music.
Matt's songs & stories, including his classic literature-based project "Wonder of It All," can be found at www.mattwheeleronline.com.