Make War - Sad and French (Cover Artwork)

Make War

Sad and French (2014)

Black Numbers

Every year has its dark horse, something completely unexpected that catches you off guard. I had noticed the name popping up on line ups with acts I love, and heard good things so decided to pick up this self-titled debut release from Brooklyn's Sad and French. You can find an interview online easy enough to explain the name better than I can.
Sad and French, by admission, started out as a solo, acoustic project for Venezuelan frontman Jose Prieto, living in Miami at the time. Incrementally, he moved to New York, added bassist Edwin Santacruz and drummer Greg Taylor to the band, and then the trio plugged in. What we get on this recording are 12 stripped down, acoustic tracks, recorded at a time before Taylor had joined as drummer and added to what you now see as an electric, driving live force. The acoustic renditions are beautiful, haunting, and perfectly suited to the mood and feel of what is essentially a devastating break up record.

"Against the Rules" kicks it all off with bright acoustic guitar and pounding double bass on top of the scene created with the first lines, "remember when you wrote me back and told me it wasn't working out with your new guy...." From this point on the album takes us though a clearly quite traumatic time in Jose's life, something we can all relate to and empathize with, but ultimately something we all need to find a way to cope with.

Music, writing and drinking seem to be the go to mechanisms for healing these exit wounds, and perhaps are the reasons why this record split me in fucking half when I first heard it. It was all so familiar, so real and so perfectly executed that I had to stop everything I was doing and just pay attention to what was happening. People leaving your life can take many forms, and this record is open enough for the listener to interpret these songs in which ever way it heals them the most. "Another Way To Let You Go" is one of the most beautiful songs I`ve ever heard. Period. Just a dude, spilling his entire guts out into a mic. Sometimes the simplest descriptions of your feelings are the most effective way to make someone understand whats going on. The line, "she says she has to let me go and I said,fuck, fuck, fuck" has stuck with me since that first play. I mean, how many times have you reacted that way, the first most honest reaction to bad news. I have been there so many times, cursing myself, my luck, my lot in life. So simple, so effective, so touching.

The songs explore the depths of where we go after these key events in life. Being with someone, just for physical contact in "Shorter Days, and Longer Nights", the thoughts of them who spurned you constantly creeping into your head are addressed in the emotive guttural howls of "Sweet Little Nightmares," "and I hope that you get what you fucking deserve, and I'll forget all those years that you kept me just there". Another breathtaking recording. "Cheers To You" will give you an idea of what the bands live sound achieves, up tempo driving rhythms and catchy group shouts. Feelings of despair and searching for answers remains constant in the remainder of the record, with highlights all over. "Bloody Faces" and "Second Floor" are folky and upbeat musically and deal with why we constantly reminisce, and have to process all these painful stages before being able to move past the hurt. More examples of sublime instrumentation and such honest lyricism.

I have come back to this record constantly throughout this whole year, each time finding more and more I love about it. Usually I play a record so much to start with I have to put it away for months before I can hear it again but something on this collection remains fresh and keeps my interest. They don't come along too often and that may be the biggest compliment I can pay these guys. "When The Poison Flows" takes us into the final stretch with a lament to mans ruin, and how all too easy it is to turn to that bottle when suddenly feeling alone, "these days my stomach has no butterflies but worms and they are eating me alive, but good ol' Jameson is good to ease the pain of when you say goodbye". As much as that can comfort in the short term we know all too well its not the solution. The simple repeated offering of "I wish that you would stick around" points out that the heartbreaking simple answer to putting the poison down may not be attainable.
"Then You" finishes the whole thing off with engaging finger picking strings and a chiiling vocal delivery that, to me, summons a hope that this bruised heart has come out the other side and can learn to love again. Its a moving ending to a record that should not fail to resonate somewhere in your jaded heart, if its still beating.

Its been over a decade since my last painful break up, and I have been happily married for years, yet this has still taken me on quite a journey for most of this year, and I look forward to cherishing it for many more years to come. It's a special record, written and delivered with more heart than most can aspire to. Wherever your emotions are right now, allow them to be stirred.