There’s no way that Norman, OK, bluesy roots rock duo, The Imaginaries, could have seen any of the chaos of 2020 coming. No one could have precisely predicted the big and obvious crisis of COVID-19, nor the less visible but still affecting like the constantly shifting groupthink of the U.S. at large, over what in day-to-day life should be a priority and also in what way everyone should manage their priorities.
Having said this, the inspiration behind the band’s newest single, “Walking on a Wire,” could not be more apropos – for reasons relevant to both the macro state of the world and those more micro-focused within the music industry as of late.
“It’s about opportunities that we’ve been given that have then been taken away due to circumstances completely out of our control. But it’s also a song about keeping the faith and staying the course, no matter what,” says McClure.
Still, past what the band is sharing about meaning, there’s an even more coincidental parallel in “Wire’s” lyricism, following comments by Spotify CEO Daniel Ek that included saying, “[Y]ou can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough,” thus heavily implying artists need to create even more quantitatively, at an even faster rate, thus hurting artistic quality overall. This quickly stirred up irritation from the music making community at large, knowing the predicament artists currently face with regard to getting music out there and staying connected to fans.
Am I supposed to run
run until my legs won’t run anymore?
Am I supposed to jump?
Jump until I fall straight to the floor?
Ooo, my heart’s a restless fire
Ooo, these bones are getting tired.
– Lyrics from “Walking on a Wire”
Despite the unplanned nature of the wording in this first verse, what it can mean for musicians when even more is asked of them, amidst continually shrinking resources and support, couldn’t resonate any more boldly against the implication of Ek’s perspective and the inarguably fragile state of the industry beyond the impediments of this pandemic.
Heavy narrative or real life parallels aside, with this new song, Maggic McClure and Shane Henry show they are no less creatively inspired, energetically motivated, or prepared to take on any and all opportunities to put themselves out there this time around, regardless of what stands in their way. Their determination is easily evident with one look at the kinds of places where the band’s music has already landed: Ditty TV, The New York Lift-Off Film Festival, the Oklahoma deadCenter Film Festival and, most recently for “Walking on a Wire,” in the Bella Thorne movie, Infamous.
Given that last entry, one might fear that “Walking on a Wire” will be written with a more sync-oriented song structure in mind. The typically short bursts of music heard in the background of pivotal TV of film scenes sometimes mean most of a song’s strength is diverted to a specific section that will end up being the most marketable piece to showcase for placement. When considering the amount of creative dedication and logistical work involved in the short film/music video for The Imaginaries’ last single, “Revival,” the temptation to perhaps pull back on the follow up seems almost inevitable. However, McClure and Henry show no lapse in their push to be heard, as “Walking on a Wire” showcases just as much commitment to performance chemistry by the two in the music itself. Furthmore, at a still to be determined date, the duo promise another striking concept video that both brings something fresh to the table but looks to match the dedication to artistic vision put into “Revival’s” theatrical story.
The Imaginaries are:
Maggie McClure (Piano, Keys, Vocals)
Shane Henry (Guitar, Vocals)
Musically, the new song has pulled back to a degree but, not artistically. This time around, McClure and Henry are out to give their sensitive sides time to shine, as “Walking on a Wire” is dynamically more reserved, instrumentally more delicate, and sonically, left a little more room to breathe. The opening alternation of a low octave perfect fifth on acoustic guitar sets up a somewhat dry tone, as the gentle scrape of fingertips against the strings nearly overtakes the sound of the pitches altogether. Though such a simple opening, the plain and literal dryness of the notes drops listeners perfectly into the eventual setting “Wire” will see: an arid, sandy desert.
That said, the song doesn’t abandon tonal punch entirely. The undulating melody of the chorus, which see-saws back and forth between a minor third, is bolstered by snare beats with a good amount of body to their hits, as well as the subtle but harmony-enhancing garnish of organ underneath. Additionally, the way their overlapping voices are left to loosely hang off, dangling alone with just the wisps of decaying tones to keep them company, quite cleverly plays into the imagery of dangling high above an open abyss. It’s a calmer song with one seriously intense visual theme.
The slightly minor-tonality tinged sections of the song gives it just the right amount of somberness to match the song’s narrative of adversity but, not enough to make it devolve into a full bout with disappointment. The imagery-laden songwriting and snug, crisp vocal harmonies by another male-female duo like Polaris Rose come to mind, especially their mildly darker-themed standalone single, “Writing on the Wall,” which turns to the visual of the old-fashioned steam locomotives – an iconic symbol of the U.S.’s adventurous industrial development.
While it will be a bit of time before the visual counterpart to “Walking on a Wire” is released into the world, the song by itself does more than enough to tease and spark anticipation for the numerous ways Henry and McClure’s perceptions of adversity will play out on screen. Even so, just the unforgiving and uncommon scene in the desert is enough to turn the fervor up plenty.
In this way, though The Imaginaries tend to think of themselves as Americana from Oklahoma, it seems fair to say as well that the duo’s steadily unfolding preference of art, storytelling, and performative eagerness makes thinking of them as makers of “American adventure” music feel like just as appropriate a description. And with how much everyone needs to keep travel and contact at a low these days, a band who can bring the adventure and thrills to the listener is going to be as welcome and exciting as finding water in the middle of the sandy desert.
Keep up with The Imaginaries through their official website and these social media outlets: