The first time we visited this room, repairs to a broken turntable belt were in full swing, so we chatted a little and then promised to come back later in the day. Our return was duly rewarded with a fully functional TT-10 spinning a fine Duetsche Grammophon recording of Schlomo Mintz and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing Mendelssohn’s violin concertos. I liked what I heard, but I decided to request something with which I was a little more familiar. Folks were amenable, so on went “Shattered and Hollow” from First Aid Kit’s newest studio album, Stay Gold.
Reader, I was blindsided. Klara Soderberg’s voice came in on the opening lines, and it was as though she was singing directly to me; the clarity and emotional power hit me right in the gut. I choked up immediately, and it was all I could do not to openly cry by the time the harmonies on the chorus hit. I asked Mal if he had a similar reaction, but he claims he was too busy struggling with allergies or perhaps sweating eyes to react in any kind of emotional or unmanly way. I wasn’t too busy trying not to embarrass myself to notice everyone in the room lean forward and smile, though.
What was it that made this so moving? I could tell you about the way that the sisters’ voices on the harmonies were completely distinct and yet absolutely musical. I could tell you about the feeling of spaciousness that the system brought out in the recording, and how sweet everything sounded. But really, what it comes down to is that sometimes there’s a perfect synergy between the components in a system, the music, and the listener. I was lucky enough to have that kind of moment in a bland airport hotel room in the San Francisco suburbs. That’s a hell of a thing.