Sunnsetter’s worrybody powerfully articulates one of the most difficult of human experiences.
Regardless of any celebrity-endorsed #hashtag consciousness-raising campaigns, it’s not at all easy for individuals dealing with mental health issues to openly talk about it. Making art out of one’s own struggles is doubly challenging; not only is the artist facing down stigmas (whether real or perceived), but they also face critical scrutiny of their art by individuals who have little insight into what they’re going through. Sunnsetter songwriter Andrew McLeod must certainly have felt some trepidations about releasing worrybody, an 18-song cycle he calls an “incredibly personal recollection of struggling with bipolar disorder, self-isolating behaviour, genuine personal connections and suicidal thoughts.”
At one point, he considered doing a “data dump” and purging upwards of fifty unfinished songs online — a digital cleanse meant to let go of deep-seeded, intimate thoughts. In the end, McLeod decided on another route. He shaped his rough cuts, reworked some tracks recorded over an extended road trip, and pieced together a carefully curated, lovingly assembled record of his personal journey. worrybody is starkly intimate, relying on instrumentation and mood as much as words and lyrics to convey the trajectory of McLeod’s story.
The record plays out like a cinematic film score, bookended by plaintive, reflective tracks “the skin I live in (introduction)” and “end”. McLeod’s emotive singing, haunting and familiar, hovers in the spaces between notes. For every stirring ballad like “haven’t really tried all that hard” there’s an equally moving lo-fi anthem counterpoint like “a list of plans (they will fall through)”. While there’s clearly a narrative arc running through worrybody, the song cycle isn’t encumbered by it. It’s less about the actual events and experiences that inspired the story and more about the creative expression of said events.
McLeod hopes that worrybody serves as a guiding example for others dealing with similar situations; his willingness to be vulnerable and open about his struggle ensures that it will be. He’s being overly modest if he feels that’s as far as the conversation will take the album, though. Beyond its power to start important conversations about mental illness and well-being, worrybody is a profoundly moving piece of art, poetically and powerfully articulating one of the most difficult of human experiences: struggling with one’s own thoughts and finding a way forward in the dark.