An impending visit home, and the impending close of a tremendous, tumultuous year has me nostalgic for things I don’t miss. It has me wondering what I’ve got to hold onto. It has me questioning if this newfound lightness is adjustment or apathy, maybe it is a little bit of both. Either way, it feels effortless but perfectly unnatural, like tripping off a cliff and falling so far and so fast you may as well be flying. Even though you were born without wings.

I’ve found the more ordinary and commonplace a feeling becomes – be it sadness or euphoria – the more you start to wonder what you’re missing out on with the other extreme. Was the emptiness that bad after all? Wasn’t it, in a way, kind of inspiring? Or, is crippling loneliness just a convenient cover for feeling sorry for yourself? And all along you were just missing out on where you were supposed to be?

Is there a better get-lost-in-the-pensive album this year than Aaron West? I answer with a resounding no. In a year where I’ve spent significant time working hard and trying to focus – always, always trying to focus – in the face of balancing combative emotions, I’ve found myself consistently coming back to this record for something stirring. Its emotional triggers are strong and significant and its composition is an unoffensive brand indie rock that is equal parts gruff and graceful.I like “Runnin’ Scared,” it makes me want to run, not scared, and feel a little fresh and free and fiery in the face of all this frozen snow and icy feeling.  I like the subtle references to desperation mixed with the outspoken appeals to it, like the line about the broken taillight. The story of Aaron West is a heartbreaker, to be sure, but I see something inspiring in all this empty, something.What is it to feel anything at all, if not that?

“I’m stuck on a memory,
Of you dancing in a backyard in North Jersey.
You’re holding sparklers,
And silhouetted by the porch lights on a summer evening.

So, while I’m pulling my gloves off with my teeth,
It occurred to me you used to be happy.



I curse the dashboard heat,
It’s fucking freezing.

Asleep in the backseat,
Oh god, I’m shaking. I’m empty.
I feel so damn empty.


I keep thinking
That I’ll feel better when it’s warmer across state lines.
Now I’m scraping ice off of the windshield with a piece of broken taillight.

Oh, I wouldn’t quite call it homesick
but I keep seeing your face in the northbound traffic.


I curse the dashboard heat,
It’s fucking freezing.
Asleep in the backseat, 

Oh god, I’m shaking. I’m empty.
I feel so damn empty.


I’m gonna go to Georgia.
I’m gonna smile in the sun.
I’m gonna pick you some wild day-lilies,
And I’m gonna hold on to them.
I’m gonna keep them in my pocket
Til you let me back home.

I’m gonna go to Georgia,
And I’m coming back whole.

I curse the dashboard heat,
It’s fucking freezing.
Asleep in the backseat,
Oh god, I’m shaking. I’m empty.
I feel so damn empty.”

~Runnin’ Scared
Aaron West and the Roarin’ Twenties, We Don’t Have Each Other