The world has found itself in the midst of quite the catch-22 with international separations and stay-at-home standards being the heavily regarded practice since as long ago as last year. The more the seasons began to transition from winter to spring and the more the hours of sunshine increased and the temperatures have steadied to pleasant levels of warmth, the more emotionally difficult it’s become to feel at ease about staying put. Thoughts of vacations planned and visits organized have fallen farther and farther into the background but the upside is supposed to be that the world stays healthier because of these choices.
Mike Frazier, a folk rock musician out of Winchester, VA, can absolutely empathize with the restlessness and feelings of wistful longing that have crept up as the days and weeks have passed. A busy songwriter who doubles as the founder of Virginia based label, Geneva Records, Frazier was fortunate in that timing happened to be on his side when the inspiration his for his newest single, “Among the Desert Stars,” as well as its accompanying full length album, Leave it All Behind, which is due out on 12 June 2020.
Spending much of last year between studios is both Virginia and New Jersey, the making of “Among the Desert Stars” suffered no immediate setback as a result of necessary distancing measures that began sidelining everything from in-person interviews, to gigs and full-blown tours back in March. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean the radical societal shift of the present day hasn’t hit Frazier hard, or even even that he necessarily feels fully at peace and completely content listening back to the single.
That’s not to say there’s anything inherently wrong or unpleasant with the way “Among the Desert Stars” sounds. Quite to the contrary, the song makes for a delightful listening experience at 3:21 in length and loaded with some of the most warm-toned instrumentation with which folk rock tends to play. Straight away, from the song’s opening seconds, the tonal contrast between the sustained and slightly bent guitar, and the thinner, jangle-style tone from the second rhythm guitar brings to mind the kind of easy-going folk rock of decades past.
The likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival; The Mamas and the Papas; Crosby, Stills, and Nash; and others, blended warm tones with strikingly crisp sounds that made their melodies stick out while also emphasizing the comforting and relaxed mentality so much of the folk rock scene from the 1960s and 1970s cherished. Instruments and their unique sonic qualities weren’t as strictly associated with one genre over another. In this way, Frazier’s emulation of that classic blend allows “Among the Desert Stars” some stylistic breathing room, away from being immediately heard as a distinctly country song, despite the pliable guitar tones and the thematic focus on vast midwestern deserts landscapes and skies.
But all you ever wanted was a highway,
that stretched across the skies and never ends.
Ride it till the sun went down,
never looking back,
on everything you once had.
– Lyrics from “Among the Desert Stars”
The lyrical aspect of the song certainly leans on imagination and visuals – particularly where the thought of riding away and not turning back is concerned. Released amid a context of global stillness however, Frazier’s thoughts likely aren’t far from those of his listeners, who may be pining for the exact kind of scene laid out in the verses. It’s this honest state of affairs that makes “Among the Desert Stars” a hard listen at times, through no fault of Frazier’s, as he too is left to wait in place like everyone else. On the other hand, for every moment when a song like this brings about a sting of disappointment at the thought of not doing what it says, or being where it describes, a crucial element that runs through “Among the Desert Stars” the reassurance of hope, potential, and the openness of the future. Songs like this one, which seem to create painful longing, just as easily serve as a catalyst for better days, optimism, and the uplifting anticipation that comes from knowing that good things are destined to come down the line.
In that sense, the escapist nature of “Among the Desert Stars” can also be seen as a method of escaping one’s own disappointment, instead favoring the thought of plans yet to be made and lived. It’s a matter of mental perspective. Whether anxious impatience or comforting eagerness, it’s all up to the listener. And though Mike Frazier may have created “Among the Desert Stars” with a specific origin story and an original narrative purpose, it’s humanizing and enlightening to think that the very writers of songs themselves may find a novel sense of goodness from approaching their own music from a different perspective, just like everyone else.
Settle in and imagine the future possibilities with “Among the Desert Stars” below!
Pre-orders for a very limited run of vinyl are available now thorough Geneva Records’ online store.
Keep connected with Mike Frazier through Geneva Records’ official website these social media outlets: