by Levi Bagdanov
A Reflection on Page France’s Hello, Dear Wind
I did not care for Page France’s Hello, Dear Wind (Fall Records, re-released on Suicide Squeeze Records) when it came out in 2005. I didn’t really care for Page France’s Hello, Dear Wind when I saw them live in 2006. And I don’t care for Page France’s follow-up ...and the Family Telephone or front man Michael Nau’s subsequent projects with his band Cotton Jones. Yet, as I find myself consistently coming back and listening to Hello, Dear Wind, I am more and more impressed by this little album from nine years ago.
I think it will be helpful if I disclose why I was hesitant about Page France. In indie music, particularly the indie music popular between 2004 and 2008, there is a tendency to become very quirky. And in my opinion, a lot of bands became quirky for quirkiness sake and became parodies of themselves. Page France walks this line, from the wheezy male vocals and cute-as-a-button female vocals to the glockenspiel and album title “Hello, Dear Wind,” they can, at face value, seem too cute to be taken seriously. But there is something earnest and inviting in this album that transcends its cuteness.
At its heart, “Hello, Dear Wind” is an Easter album. The lyrics overflow with life, with earth, with resurrection. On the song “Jesus,” Nau sings,
“Jesus will come through the ground so dirty
Nau’s lyrics explore biblical imagery playfully and are coated with surrealism.
with worms in his hair and a hand so sturdy
to call us his magic, we call him worthy
Jesus came up through the ground so dirty”
This imagery is peppered throughout the album, not following any particular theology but rather creating a puzzle of images that the listener is left to put together. I find his approach to religious imagery engaging. There is nothing dogmatic about Nau’s lyrics rather the imagery operates as a common language that helps the listener meditate on life and death, mystery and love, Jesus and God in a way that is intriguing and unassuming.
The song Junkyard
highlights all of Page France strengths. Nau is able to take two chords and a batch of charming lyrics to create a simple yet dynamic song. He sings:
“You were told to glow majestically
and love until your hands bleed.”
The music builds to a crescendo when a distorted keyboard and rolling snare drum enter and Nau sings “no one’s quite as bloom/ as they’d like to be.” With this line Nau Demonstrates his keen ability to tether his floating lyrics back to earth.
I highly recommend listening to this little old album. I also recommend that you think about and appreciate the albums you love that don’t necessarily fit. The albums you don’t want to like, but for some reason love.
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