Recommended Tracks: “Up Against the Night”, “You”, “Sense of Wonder”
Artists You May Like: Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M.
It would be a shame to go through life without a little optimism. To wake up each morning and go to bed each night expecting the worst or cowering in fear of what could be. Of course, optimism doesn’t come easy, but it would be a chore to stay down. As a famous wizard once said, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” For his new album, Lay Your Darkness Down, Mark Erelli is turning on this light, focusing on the people and moments that matter most to him. By rising above the darkness, he inspires others to do the same.
Mark gets lost in thought on this album, reflecting on various life lessons and new ambitions. On opening track “Break in the Clouds,” he presents us with a warm folk anthem about going after what you want. Over the affectionate sounds of the acoustic guitar, he sings, “Lately I’ve been thinking / About what’s important and I’m headed west just as soon as I can / I’m gonna wait for a break in the clouds.” While moving forward, he also looks back, as we hear on “You’re Gonna Wanna Remember This.” With this stripped-back track, Mark taps into the wisdom he has gained in this life such as, “The world’s gonna keep on turning / That’s just the way it is / So you’re gonna wanna remember this.” The importance of staying present and open comes through on “Sense of Wonder,” where he treasures the possibilities that come with curiosity and imagination. He reminds us, “Are we out here on our own? / Or does someone catch us when we fall? / Without a sense of wonder, it begins to seem so tragic and so small.”
Upon such reflection, Mark finds strength in trying times. On “Fuel for the Fire,” he encourages, “You can’t live in fear but you can use it as fuel for the fire” and “Never mind what they say / They’re gonna say it anyway / Use it as fuel for the fire.” The electric guitar riffs and rock-based energy really drive these messages home, as if they are the flame. Mark continues to persevere on “Up Against the Night,” where he delivers lines like, “As long as I’m here / I will rage against the dark,” his unhinged vocals convincing us that he has a lot of fight. When we get to the title track, he gets back into a warm folk sound, his humble vocals emphasizing the imagery heard in the lyrics. He strives for the light as he sings, “Towns can be rebuilt / But some holes just can’t be filled / And hope is in the heart of the beholder.”
Of course, there is also strength in love. Having someone to go through life with can make all the difference, which we hear on “The Man I Am.” Mark pairs more exposed vocals with the incessant strumming of an acoustic guitar here, singing, ““You loved me into the man I am” and “I was set in my ways before I met you / What made me think I could make it alone?” We get a quieter, dreamier vibe on “You,” where Mark recounts, “You knew how to hang with the band / Yeah you / Grabbed my arm before I asked to dance / Oh, I never really had a chance once I saw you.” The detailed lyrics and the semi a cappella production make this a romantic moment on the album, this intimate feeling holding over until we get to the closing track “Love Wins in the Long Run.” Over a fun-loving, jovial production, Mark sings, “Hang in there, baby, the whole world’s gone crazy / Love wins in the long run / No matter what you’ve done or where you’re from / Love wins in the long run,” prompting us to keep love alive.
In the end, Lay Your Darkness Down contains the hope, strength, and love needed to get through any major or minor obstacle. We feel this through the lyrics, the melodies, the instrumentation, and the overall arrangement of each track, brought together by Mark’s timeless vocals. In addition to the positive messages heard in the songs, the album also provides some clarity to those out there who may not know exactly what they are going through or how to get through their own darkness. Mark explains, “By making my private struggles public, maybe it helps others to see that we all have a choice. We can be overwhelmed by the shadows or use them to show where the light is coming from. As for me, no matter what happens, I’ll forever be looking for the light.” With Lay Your Darkness Down, Mark has given us a light that will always burn, ready for anyone who is in need of such brightness.
You can listen to Lay Your Darkness Down on platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud.