For this Tiny Desk, she sings three songs. She plays an acoustic guitar with a folky flair. The rest of her group consists of an electric guitar, a keyboard and a box drum (I love those).
Rae’s voice is delightful and her backing band gives the songs a 70s soft rock feel. It’s an interesting mix of sounds.
“Paris Nights / New York Mornings” is a catchy song based around her guitar. It’s an upbeat song with some cool dramatic slow downs. It sounds incredibly 1970s.
She says that “Hey, I Won’t Break Your Heart” is about falling in love with a person again, a second time. And how you have to rebuild trust. It’s a slow ballad, although it builds into a kind of R&B song. The interesting thing about Rae is that she always has a smile on her face. She seems so happy during every song even when she sings, “I won’t break your heart like you broke mine.”
“The Skies Will Break” is about a point in your life when you think things are hopeless. But you should just know that things will change. It has a 70s keyboard vibe. I really like the chord progressions of the chorus. The fact that it’s her acoustic guitar that plays the loud chords of the chorus is pretty cool.
It has been about six years since Rae made an album, and it’s nice to have her back (even if I didn’t know she was gone).
[READ: March 8, 2016] “The Noble Truths of Suffering”
The story is about an American abroad. He says he was speaking Bosnian and was in the American Ambassador’s house. The house was ugly, built by a Bosnian tycoon. But he decided that he needed more space, so he rented it out.
There’s a funny moment were the narrator sees the cultural attaché whose name is Jonah. He says he mistakenly called him Johnny once and has been playing up that joke “Johnnyboy!” ever since.
This seems like a political story until we realize that the narrator is there to meet Dick Macalister, the author and Pulitzer Prize winner. The narrator had received an invitation a few weeks ago.
I enjoyed that the invitation had reached his at his parents house in Sarajevo where he was briefly staying (he lives in Chicago). He couldn’t figure out how they knew where he was, but he had lots of wild speculative ideas. He wasn’t going to go–he was trying to clear his head of Americans, until he read a little more about Macalister. He had heard of him but hadn’t read him. So he read some pullout quotes by the man and decided he was okay.
Finally, during the party he gets a chance to meet the man. Even though the narrator was happily in America he had pride in Sarajevo and asked if Macalister had seen the most important sites. Macalister seemed to feign interest in the conversation.
As the night wore on, Macalister seemed to be hitting on a woman. The narrator was getting drunker and drunker, and he decided to be a third wheel and hang around with the Macalister and the woman. It should be noted that Macalister doesn’t drunk, he is a recovering alcoholic.
When the woman left, the narrator gave Macalister a tour of Sarajevo and they started talking. It seemed that Macalister never got angry. The narrator couldn’t figure it out. He too was a writer, how could Macalister be a writer and not be angry? (especially since all of his stories are about violent men in violent situations. The narrator got drunker and drunker and then made Macalister promise that he would have dinner with him and his parents before he left Sarajevo.
I love the way the next section begins, “But he called, ladies and gentleman of the prestigious literary prize committee, to his eternal credit he kept his promise and called the very next morning.” Which means that the narrator and his family must scramble to accommodate this American author for a traditional Bosnian lunch.
And it is a big glorious lunch. There’s all kinds of meat (Macalister is vegetarian too) and drink (still not drinking). The narrator’s parents pepper him with questions that no fawning American would ask. The meal, despite the narrator’s misgivings seemed to be a success.
But why then, did Macalister never contact them again? Why was he so quick to forget his friends in Bosnia.
When the narrator was back in Chicago, he saw that Macalister was going to read from his next book at a store nearby. So he decided to get to the bottom of things. And while there was no “gotcha” moment, the connections to the rest of the story were really nicely made.
I love the way the story ended and the revelation that came from it. And I enjoyed how this fairly long story was chock full of wonderful details throughout. Macalister is a delightful enigma of a character.