Not every solo endeavor is vital to an established musician’s creativity and spirituality, but the new offering from Andrew Savage appears to have been released at a crucial turning point for the leader of the NYC-born Parquet Courts.
His second studio album as A. Savage, Several Songs about Fire, is a striking migration that hears him reflecting on his departure from Brooklyn after living there for more than a decade and recovering an exhausted version of himself.
The 10 fascinating songs showcase his abilities as an acoustic guitar player, a vocalist and an illustrator. A successful painter with his own poetic prowess, Andrew’s bursting moodiness invokes a colorful instrumentation to suit the album perfectly for the fall months, one of his hopes for it.
And though it might not make a verdict on what’s behind or what’s ahead for him, Several Songs about Fire saw Andrew out on a recent tour to promote the fresh record, living it up from small club to small club, visiting favorite spots and connecting with some of his favorite people along the way.
Savage was manning his own merch table at Black Cat in DC the night of Nov. 9, perhaps a shock to some of those who made their way into the popular venue for what turned out to be a gratifying set of music and an unobstructed view of the talented songwriter in his element.
Listen to the new solo studio album from A. Savage, Several Songs about Fire, via Spotify:
Now residing in Paris, Andrew might very well be living his best life, and that looked to be the case last week in the US capital as attendees got to hear every tune on Several Songs about Fire, plus several of the best tracks from his 2017 premiere Thawing Dawn and a couple of outstanding covers as well.
He expressed joy to be joined by drummer Dylan Hadley and guitarist Jack Cooper (Modern Nature), two of the key players on the new album, which was decidedly recorded with all participants in the same room. On keys, clarinet, and sax was Jeff Tobias, and Josh Puklavetz handled the bass.
Attendees heard a stunning take on the album-gauging “Hurtin’ or Healed” along with a blaring early single from it, “Elvis in the Army,” and Andrew would switch to his electric guitar as necessary through the set.
Watch the official music video for A. Savage’s “Elvis In The Army” via the artist’s YouTube channel:
Early on, he politely asked a couple chatty ticketholders to save their conversation for later, and his request effectively quieted the dark space of the venue to showcase songs like “Le Grand Balloon,” a surging piece that conveys some of the most regretful sentiments on the album before culminating with Savage’s uncommon roar. With those in the room listening with intent, the sulk and groove of “My My My Dear” — forthright in its New York farewell — was rewardingly rhythmic and harmonious.
With a bright red decorative flower of some sort tucked behind an ear, Savage appeared to be invigorated in the company of longtime friends and even a family member, too, as his brother and Parquet Courts bandmate, Max, stopped by during the show.
Unsure if Max was still in the house, Andrew eventually dedicated the track “Thanksgiving Prayer” to him anyhow: “I’ll send this one out to my brother.”
Savage asked where people had come from, and some had traveled across several states — but when he heard a competitive DMV “boo” come from the back, he put an end to that: “I don’t’ care where you’re from. I just care that you’re here.”
His conversation eventually moved to Thanksgiving, a holiday on which the Texas native said he planned to enjoy friends, consume adult beverages, and share his gratitude for this life: “That’s what it’s all about.”
Revisit A. Savage’s solo premiere, 2017’s Thawing Dawn, via Spotify:
Anyone in the room early enough couldn’t have helped but notice that Andrew had been sitting with a lady friend at the bar when he wasn’t working his table, and that same woman made her way to the front row, from where she and Savage locked eyes and exchanged smirks for much of the show. For those close enough to witness it, their bond radiated as a genuine, charming feature of an unforgettable presentation.
“Are these songs about you?” she was asked at one point.
“Maybe just one,” she beamed. “We’re old friends.”
Attending one of his shows is certainly no invitation into the man’s private life, but last week at Black Cat showed that Andrew’s songwriting is deeply personal to him and, as an outlet, is key to his own healthy existence.
Hurtin’ Or Healed
Elvis in the Army
Le Grand Balloon
My My My Dear
I Can’t Shake the Stranger Out of You (Lavender Country)
Wild, Wild, Wild Horses
Winter in the South
It Won’t Be Long (And I’ll Be Hating You)
My New Green Coat
Out of Focus
Here are home-developed, home-scanned 35mm film shots of A. Savage along with the night’s opening act, Sluice, performing at Black Cat on Nov. 9, 2022. All images copyright and courtesy of Casey Ryan Vock.