Indigo Girls - Poseidon and the Bitter Bug: CD Review

By bulldyke

I grin as the first chords of the new Indigo Girls album echo in my room, meeting the sunshine and dancing. The song is Digging for Your Dreams. It takes me a few days after getting Poseidon and The Bitter Bug to learn the words, but the music is so beautiful, and their harmonies are breathtaking.

The Indigo Girls, Emily Saliers and Amy Ray, play an eclectic mix of folk and country. I own 10 of their albums, and iTunes seems to have a different genre listing for each of them. Some are rock, some folk, others country, or alternative, or even pop.

Over the next week, I listen to nothing but the new album.

There is a melancholy air to the songs, as many of them are about looking back and finding mistakes.

One, in particular, speaks to me. Ghost of the Gang. It begins:

Jimmy died on the couch yesterday
friend of his ex-wife called me to say
He just gave it to God and slipped from the living
bills piling up and a back that was giving in.

It goes on to tell about the cousin of a friend who also committed a "midday suicide," and how sorry the singer is that she never called.

Here I am, sitting in the dark
Afraid to make a stupid call.

How many times have I felt that way? How many times have I witnessed grief, and been too afraid to touch it, even to offer comfort?

For me, the song is also a warning, of a kind. The ghost of the gang she refers to seems to be the memory of a group of friends who survived high school together "with a reason for living, no matter how bad it got." I'm about to move away, far away, from everything I've ever known, and while I'm more than ready for that change, I'm afraid of losing my friends.

The album in general is mellower than the Indigo Girls's previous work. I mixed the new music with a playlist of my faves, and while it has their unique ring to it, it's almost as though they are taking a breath, a pause, and taking the time to look back and reflect.

Retrospective, another of their albums, was released in 2000, but the name seems more apt for this album.

Love of Our Lives is a battle hymn for every couple, an anthem for the brokenhearted who seek to mend a relationship. That tone is heard again and again in I'll Change, Second Time Around, and True Romantic.

But all is not lost. This is not an album for giving up hope, simply a pause to rest and reflect. "Trying to remember the very last time I felt a simple thing going past."

All of us, in our lives, need to slow down sometimes and distress. For the Indigo Girls, this is what the album is for.

There is a kernel of fear in a few of the songs; fear of love lost and broken hearts. Fear of not being good enough. Both Ghost of the Gang and Driver Education speak about childhood and growing up, as though they are looking back. There is a sense of not wanting to go back, and not being able to stand still, and uncertainty about the future.

But Digging for Your Dreams warns to not tamper with fate. "Bloody your hands, digging for your dream," they sing, as if to say 'when it's right in front of you the entire time'.

Here again is the sense of looking back.

See how she looked in the school yearbook
Friends in the margins all around
Oh would you stay in touch
You know I miss you so much
And I hope we get out of this town

I look around this site, and at my friends, and I wonder where we'll all be in 10 years, or 20 or 30. Will we remember each other? If one of us died, would we think about it 30 years down the line, and still have regrets?

I try to live my life so that if I died tomorrow, I would die at peace. So that I have no regrets. I try to follow my heart, and give back what has been given to me.

Fleet of Hope is one of the most soul-piercing songs I've ever heard, and I think it speaks to me so deeply both because it's about the ocean, but also because it speaks about regret, disappointment and loss.

We'll both have caught on to something by the end of the day
But mostly we think about the one that got away

But there's also hope, that bare glimmer that sometimes seems impossible:

I've stood up at that place where the water meets the sky
And though I've stopped breathing I still believed I should try

Sadness, regret, reflection, loss, tears and hope, all mixed together into 10 songs (11 with the expanded edition which includes the acoustic versions of all the songs). The poetry the Indigo Girls bring to all of their music, as well as their blood-stirring chords is ever present, bringing you to tears one moment, dancing the next.

All in all, it's a wonderful album, with their usual eclectic mix of music that is theirs and theirs alone.


Here's them performing the single from the new CD at a recent radio station appearance: