Working on your heart

By SAM PFEIFLE  |  July 1, 2009

But "10,000 Years," featuring a central acoustic guitar hook, is terrifically nuanced without being overwhelming. The opening couplet has so much to say: "I don't believe in California/I've never seen that coast-lined state." On an album where Wilkinson tries to evince the everyman, this is the best portrait. The protagonist here doesn't believe in California because he can't. He doesn't have time for it — the governator, Barbara Boxer, Malibu, Hollywood, and the rest aren't anything that could ever seem real when you're trying to make ends meet in Maine.

Nor is he playing to the masses, though. He's talking about reading the Iliad and 10,000 years of human history, and what it is we've all come to. "You gotta put this life together/Day to day and week to week/There ain't nothing that comes easy/There ain't nothing that comes cheap." It's a truism, and it's simple, but it isn't simplistic, and as an organic wash of noise builds into the song, it's like the coming weight of the future, eventually enveloping the song until everything finishes in a snap of silence.

"I can't tell if I'm all out of luck/Or just didn't have much luck to start," Wilkinson wonders during "In the Flood," an epitome of the way he can capture the essence of resignation. And during a rainy season when it feels like the sun will never come out again, it's easy to sympathize, whether you're working, poor, or something else entirely.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at sam_pfeifle@yahoo.com .

The Working Poor Blues |Released by Carll Wilkinson | with Pete Morse | at the North Star Music Café, in Portland | July 16 | www.carllwilkinson.com

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