I am of the opinion that everything Andy Hull does that *isn’t* Manchester Orchestra is remarkably better than anything Manchester has done since 2009. Maybe it has something to do with how he chooses to create and collaborate – the Right Away, Great Captain! side project seems very song-driven, and Bad Books has the insights and playing prowess of the remarkable, seemingly indestructible Kevin Devine. Here, I love his repetition (what a useful little tool that is) and his very stark, undressed playing. As always with his lyrics, I love how deep he cuts into himself to find the messy, sloppy fears and failings and pulls them out.

I played more guitar and worked on songs more in the past 36 hours than I have in years. Never before have I been more cognizant of the difficulty of precision in recording, and getting a take that sounds right. Recording a song like this – purely solo – allows a little more flexibility on that front, letting the decisions overall sound and style and pitch to be up to the singleton. Collaboration is much more difficult, especially as styles and influences start to mesh. A player must connect with the words and feel of their collaborator, or else they won’t be able to find the right fitting style. How many band breakup stories does the world need to prove this, of such-and-such walking out of the studio because so-and-so wasn’t giving on their stance on a part or phrase or production quality? Given Andy Hull’s long run with Manchester, I can see why these solo projects are a focused effort to produce and perform, separate from the highly detailed task of creating with others in full band form. But that doesn’t mean solo is the only way for a songwriter to go – as with any such effort, the greater the risk, the greater the reward.

“It must have been a month since you last loved me,
And I haven’t slept a wink I hope you care.
And I went to hell and back for half an hour,
And started a staring contest with your man.

And I was a cage, I was a cafe, I was a cage
A cage to you.

And it has to been a year since I was sober,
And I made a point to pinch my skin again.
It’s any minute now that I will wake you,
Watching a woman sleep can get you scared
.

But I am a cage, I am a cage, I am cage
Surrounding you.
But I am afraid, I am afraid, god I’m afraid.
Of the truth inside of you.

I could use a friend to say they love me
But I’m gonna make a sound you cant forget.
And afterwards I swore that I would haunt you,
Now I’m way too tired to give a shit.

Cause I was a wave, I was a wave, I was a wave,
Collapsing you,
Yeah I was a wave
Collapsing you.

I am away, I am away, I am away
Coming up to you
Well I was away.”

~I Was A Cage
Right Away, Great Captain!, The Eventually Home