GOOD/GRIEF by The RoselineRelease date: April 3, 2020
It was Tom Waits who said, “I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.” During this COVID-19 crisis, this might be exactly the right (musical) medicine we need. Collin Halliburton aka The Roseline, might not have had exactly the virus in mind, but on GOOD/GRIEF, his latest album, he has consciously or unconsciously followed the above Tom Waits quote. His motivation might not have been havoc the dreaded virus is creating, but he is definitely telling terrible things through beautiful melodies.
To be able to achieve something like this, you really have to be in the rank of a master or at least on your way towards one. And Halliburton seems to be on his way. Such a process takes time, and Halliburton and the crew that makes or made The Rosaline have been around for some 14 years on or around the Nashville music scene. That scene and working on it can certainly give you the musical capabilities, you just need ‘a few’ other things like talent and drive.
And on the evidence of this album (try ‘Quartz or Digital’ for example) he’s got all of those. But GOOD/GRIEF could have turned out into yet another assured slice of Americana, that combines everything from folk, country (‘I Guess That’s Just How It Goes’), or full-out rock (‘Inside Out’), if it wasn’t for the sad events that lie behind Halliburton’s lyrics here (deaths of his close friend/bandmate and mother in law). That just put all the dark shades on the other themes he covers there from politicized rage to mortality in general, with a few other things in between.
But then, he covers it all with a dose of hope and tongue in cheek, a hard thing to manage when you are all covered with grief and dark thoughts. And as Mr. Waits prescribes, he covers it all with some great melodies to make the hard times more palpable. This might be exactly the music to put things in perspective in these dark days.