“Shelter me oh genius words 
Just give me strength to pen these things 
And give me peace to well her wings.” 

Well, this is gorgeous:

Fifty-nine days until the Chroma 10-year anniversary tour rolls through the Steel City. It’s good to have things to look forward to.

I never had the opportunity to see Cartel live in their heyday, despite thoroughly loving this record, and so I am happy to see it revived. In their new live recordings, lead vocalist Will Pugh sounds crystal clear and resonant as ever, and the swell of strings in this gentle, powerful – OK, also somewhat sappy – ballad elevate them from pop punk to a songwriter’s plateau. I don’t hear a one-off album closer in this recording, I hear a seasoned group of musicians playing their best at a heartfelt tune. I find it hopeful. I find it truthful. I find it confessional in a near-desperate kind of way, one that reminds a sad, sorry little heart of all its feeling potential, and of the days when giving it all in the name of love sounded as much of an adventure as any creative endeavor.

Ten years ago, when I would’ve played this song from a first-generation iPod in my mom’s car on the way to ballet class, love was a dream that I could not attach to places or faces other than the ones that were right in front of me – was it love or convenience then, I cannot really say, but oh, how clear the difference is today, how the recognition of the weight of love balances the perspective in the most centering kind of way. When you know, you know, they say, and this I have come to understand in a way that only age and experience can provide. Time and experience change many things, including the will and capacity and resilience of the heart, and I am listening to these poetic words today with a stronger one, than I ever did ten years ago, and that is only because of the depths of love and desperation I have encountered. For this, no matter the risk, I can only be grateful and surrender.

“And I’ll hold on to the dream
Of this beggar’s plea and optimistic fantasy.”

~The Minstrel’s Prayer
Cartel, Chroma