TRACK | Jessica Lea Mayfield – Standing in the Sun

5/5 golden merles

I am occasionally susceptible to bouts of optimism. They afflict even the best of us from time to time. And within these moments I am vulnerable to the influence of works of art that seem to represent this rosier outlook… at least as long as the craft rises to meet the exposition and there is an undercurrent of tenable fallibility or impending collapse.

I would like to see you live / not survive but really live

My first exposure to this excellent album/track was during Mayfield’s 2014 Tiny Desk Concert. Brutal and succinct turns of phrases glide over the accomplished melodic core. Slight alterations or additions keep pace with and expand out from the traditional foundation. There are more than a few layers, the combined attributes of which are getting at something.

“Not survive but really live,” it bears repeating. What a sentiment and phrasing perfectly fit for modern America, in which the living reproach of daily life dehumanizes and deprives of dignity so thoroughly, framing every proposed alternative as by default worthy of consideration.

It almost begins to break you from that spell itself, and starts to expand the realm of the possible. To utter it, at least, is the first step. Both a positive gesture and an act to set us on the path of the gauntlet ahead.

The song embodies the personal struggle within the systemic. Our institutions mirror our infrastructure. At a certain point you stop rebuilding the same flawed, failed blueprints from the same rubble, take what components you can use, and attempt to build something better.