It somehow makes sense that The Mosleys marked the year of their new record with a family move, from the only home their children have known, to a different place in a different state. Ordinary Time is an eleven-song journey through the crucibles of ache and joy brought on by family trials and the road. Produced with Phil Madeira and Jimmy Abegg, legendary songwriters and good friends of Stephen and Rachel Mosley, the record came out of a successful crowdfunding campaign (thank you to those of you who gave!) and a continual journey of writing, playing, and parsing out what it would look like to be singer-songwriters.
Not to say that the journey hasn’t been marked by moments of excitement. There was winning both the famed Eddie’s Attic songwriter shootout and the competition at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground. They were the artist of the month on NPR’s Folk Alley. And of course, there was the opening slot for Air Supply at Chastain Park. Yet the new record didn’t necessarily emerge from these places.
For all intents and purposes, Ordinary Time was born in an Airstream trailer, rocketing somewhere through the American West like a satellite still longing for the home ground of the South. Stephen and Rachel renovated the classy silver-bullet-shaped vehicle, hitched it up, and bravely toted their five children on the road, homeschooling all the while. The proximity of seven people in a trailer certainly provides fertile ground for songwriting. Such interpersonal adventures ought to come with warning labels. The album’s lyrics tread unflinchingly over difficulties and thorny patches of regret that ring familiar.
Why Wyoming? You were stuck inside yourself. All the miles and landscapes I watched alone. I can’t tell you how or where to go. —“High Places” I could hear you humming Three doors down from my back porch; I stood outside, I walked the baby back and forth. Your light went out. I shut the door. —“Five Long Years”
You can hear the road running by under the wheels. By turns, the sound gleams with the pink granite sparkle of sunny highways or purls with memory while staring at its reflection in the darkened car window.
Settle me down on a piece of this ground, Let me know it is mine. Find me a place that will settle my soul; I will know I am home. …I will make the best of whatever comes. —“Settle”
Ever since alt-country tended to be one of the best kinds of country, this sort of music has provided a good, cozy corner in which to sort through the mess of being human. There’s something about the woolen, mid-heavy bend of a lap steel, perhaps. The record never overdoes the sound either. Phil Madeira’s judicious blend of guitars and accordion, with a little old tube organ thrown in for good measure, creates the perfect backdrop for the acoustic tone.
The great comfort of these songs is that, in the midst of overly dramatic times, they revel in the beauty of the ordinary. All the little difficulties and glories of normal life are there, painted with the light touch of vignette.
This ring I’ve worn for thirteen years, The way you know my smile, even when it’s hard to find— I’m staying up too late. Hail, Mary, full of grace, That you’ll make it home again. —“Eiderdown”
Again, thank you to everyone who participated in the Mosleys’ crowdfunding campaign. If you aren’t getting the downloads already as part of your participation rewards, Ordinary Time is now available on iTunes!
Download Ordinary Time on iTunes