With questions about our collective health crisis being answered with speculation, hypotheses, and more uncertainty than confidence, “Visions of the Higher Dream” reminds us to embrace facts and truth.
I’ve had a plethora of questions about “Visions of the Higher Dream” since Daniel Romano surprise-released his self-quarantine album in the early hours of March 15th. Questions that don’t require answering, because, in essence, the response to each is another question: “Who fucking cares?”
Q: Who is playing on “Visions of the Higher Dream”, or is he playing every instrument as has been the case on his last few releases? A: Who fucking cares?
Q: What do we call this record? An official follow-up to 2018’s Finally Free or a stand-alone release in the same vein as Human Touch and Nerveless from the same year? A: Who fucking cares?
Q: When did Romano record these songs? In a marathon session since going into self-isolation or has he been working on them over the last year between tours with Ancient Shapes and the Outfit? A: Who fucking cares?
Q: Where did these songs come from? Are they hastily-assembled demos never meant for release or are they sketches of songs that he’d abandoned or hadn’t found a home for? A: Who fucking cares?
Q: How in the world does Daniel Romano manage to write, record, and release such finely crafted songs in such volume, with no signs of slowing down his output? A: Who fucking cares?
By what right should we be questioning artists — our cultural therapists — who find themselves drowning in the unintended consequences of social distancing? With questions about our collective health crisis being answered with speculation, hypotheses, and more uncertainty than confidence, let’s embrace facts:
Fact: during a self-imposed, fourteen-day quarantine, Daniel Romano has made available a ten-song album called “Visions of the Higher Dream”.
Fact: for many who’ve come to expect the unexpected from Romano, “Visions of the Higher Dream” is a serendipitous blessing in the wake of unprecedented world-changing events.
Fact: day-to-day and hour-by-hour, the rules and regulations about navigating our collective health and safety shift and change. But music, especially finely detailed and lovingly rendered songs like “Nobody Sees A Lowered Face” and “Girl In A Bath Full Of Tears”, are constant and true. A jewel like “Lilac About Thy Crown” will always sparkle and shine no matter how chaotic the world gets around you.
Intentional or not, Romano codifies our collective experience in the wake of this world-wide pandemic: “My weariness is gathering / My legs too weak for roaming”, yet we must persevere and continue our pursuits. We cannot bow down to the facts and evidence that bombard us with every newscast; we need to steel ourselves for the road to recovery ahead.
On “Nobody Sees A Lowered Face”, Romano asks, “Through the night / Why do I beg for daylight?”. The answer to that question — and, in essence, every other question and uncertainty the world is collectively facing right now — is simple: it’s because we’re human, and we fucking care.