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Current Joys

East My Love

Release Date: 2024-10-11
Catalog No: SC486
Label: Secretly Canadian

East My Love, the resplendent, country-tinged 12th album by Current Joys, feels familiar. It’s meant to: the 12 songs contained within dive deep into the rich folklore of the American West to tell time-worn tales of love and trauma, heartbreak and spiritual renewal. Cast with a warm glow and finding Current Joys’ Nick Rattigan tapping into some of his lushest, most high-fidelity production to date, it’s the kind of album that listeners could see themselves within, and, hopefully, keep close when they’re most in need of reassurance or escapism. For Rattigan, though, it’s all that and more. “East My Love is an album I wrote at a low point, where I was struggling with a lot of mental health stuff,” he says. “Writing it was like my comfort blanket. In all of the madness that was happening in my mind, I was trying to soothe my soul with country music and transcendental folk – messages to myself from a different place.”

Rattigan wrote East My Love alone in the woods in Tennessee, with no cell reception and nobody in earshot for miles. Composed three years before Love + Pop, the experimental pop double record he released in 2023 and 2024, the songs on East My Love felt too raw to confront until he felt well and truly out from underneath the cloud that had been cast over him. Rattigan describes the songs as “landmines” that, for years, threatened to upend his carefully balanced mental state. “They were just triggers that would put me back in this emotional space, and I think eventually I got to a place where they were more comforting,” he recalls. “That’s what I hope people find out of the record – a solace from any anxieties or depressions.”

Along with that comfort comes pain, and an acknowledgement that any repair requires some level of breakage. Lead single “California Rain” acts like a tableau depicting Rattigan’s attempt to escape his demons, its placid lyrics a distinct counterpoint to the tidal-wave production: “Isn’t it nice to get away?/Clearing my head up, and dull away the pain.” It speaks to the album’s constant coin-toss between peace and chaos: “It’s like you’re trying to outrun your demons, but at a certain point, they become your friend, and you have to walk alongside them,” says Rattigan. “I feel like you don’t know that when you’re suppressing them – when you’re hiding them in the rain.”

At other points, Rattigan is more clear-eyed about the struggle of moving forward; opening track “Echoes of the Past,” a simple fiddle-and-guitar track that counts among the most beautiful ballads Rattigan has ever written, aches with the acknowledgement that inner peace exists on a knife’s edge. “The world won’t end in blazing fire and brimstone – it’ll end from us not learning from our past and our mistakes,” says Rattigan.

An attempt to channel the gnarled country of Desire-era Dylan, “Echoes of the Past” introduces a record that’s equal parts tender and brutal, manic and clear-eyed. Its introspection is often tempered by music that’s buffeting and grand: the album’s title track channels the record’s quest for transcendence into a sweeping string coda that feels like a light at the end of the tunnel; on the wounded, forlorn “They Shoot Horses,” Rattigan translates vulnerability about his struggles with relationships into a vocal performance that’s so ragged it feels like it could disintegrate at any moment. Beauty and pain are inextricable on these songs, a state that’s reflective of Rattigan’s time writing in the woods. “There was a lot of pain and anxiety in this really beautiful setting, so there’s a duality to the songs,” he says. Walking around in the woods, playing the songs on acoustic guitar, Rattigan felt himself sink deeply into the rich, vast natural environment, a space in which he could access the base, almost childlike anger and pain he was contending with. When it came time to record the songs two years later, he worked with Andrew Sarlo, who was able to pull him back to the light while working on songs he had previously found too triggering to touch. “Not only is Sarlo technically a genius, but he’s the funniest person – constantly bringing a levity to the situation, and I feel like because the songs were so intense, it was nice to go in with this fresh approach,” says Rattigan. “He helped bring out the songs in a very cinematic way – he brought a lot of interesting, chaotic moments, moments of fault that are usually missing in a studio recording.”

There’s a purity of catharsis that runs through these songs; written without pretense, they take base human needs and desires and fit them into a grander tradition of American songwriting that takes in everything from Willie Nelson to Bright Eyes. True to that, many of the songs on East My Love, due to their outside-looking-in perspective, play like standards. “Slowly Like The Wind,” a simple voice-and-guitar ballad, finds Rattigan reassuring his subject that “slowly like the wind” he’ll help push them in the right direction in times of need. On “Lullaby for the Lost,” which feels parched but emotionally rich, he urges himself to remember that “we’ll get oh so strong” despite the depths of despair he may be feeling in the moment. “‘Lullaby for the Lost’ was one of the ones written as if I was talking to myself – I was the person holding the Gatorade in the marathon,” Rattigan says. “I wanted it to be very slow and meditative, with these punctuations of lyrics that I really wanted to stick out. I felt like it was powerful to accentuate certain points, but also let the song be a meditative comfort to the listener.”

That comfort can be traced back to an idea at the core of East My Love that Rattigan describes simply: “Everyone deserves peace of mind.” On “Tormenta,” a hardened appeal for his brain to quiet down, he rages against his state of mind, promising that “I won’t let your winds blow me anymore.” It’s a powerful moment of self-determination that asserts his own right to tranquility. “It’s saying ‘I won’t let this define me’,” he says. “But the only way to really move through it is to find love for those emotions – to be able to find peace with that devil inside of you.”
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Standard formats

(Olive Vinyl)
(Black LP)
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