Why Raven and the Wren’s new song is an ‘anthem’ for the band’s singer

Local band Raven and the Wren has released the new single, “Second Chances.”
Local band Raven and the Wren has released the new single, “Second Chances.”

Courage is implicit in the choice to be authentic and vulnerable, and it can manifest in any number of ways.

Last week, Raven and the Wren stepped to the forefront of the phenomenon of that choice with the release of the band’s new single, “Second Chances,” which is available for streaming and download on most platforms.

“It was recorded in bits and pieces at different locations, late May/early June of this year” Raven and the Wren singer and guitarist Natalie Race wrote in an email. “For this song, I was joined by Kevin Lowe and Bob Hart. Bob also did the final production of that track, (with) a nod to La Cumbre Studios on the artwork.”

This single is a wonderfully new musical portrait, not necessarily bound by a linear sense of time or of fixed circumstances. You can feel how much the words and music matter to Race, and they can matter to the listener in an equally profound way, for altogether different reasons.

Still, “Second Chances” is certainly about something specific, and is saturated with intention.

“Typically, I try to leave the door to interpretation wide open,” Race wrote. “I believe a listener will find their own subjective connection to a song, which I do not want to interfere with. However, this song I feel particularly defensive of, as it was written as my own ‘anthem,’ so to speak, and has been misunderstood.”

With stripped down instrumentation and a gently lyrical recurring instrumental theme, Race’s singing guides us through a first-person address to someone, a seemingly abstract “you,” who, as Race sings in the first verse, could be watched crawling “all the way to nothing.” Whomever we’re hearing from in the song knows the sufferer well, and is trying, albeit a bit dismissively, to help the sufferer understand why there is no such thing as a “second chance,” because “the time is now.”

“On the day after Memorial Day 2016,” Race wrote, “I woke up and decided I was ready to face my ego, transform my life and live with sobriety. It is also the day I began writing this song.”

Race explains she experienced a metaphysical epiphany having to do with the fluid and perpetual seamlessness of the present moment, making clear the concept of second chances is a logical fallacy.

“I realized that there are no second chances,” Race wrote, “only a succession of first chances. Every breath is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do what you want to do, in a way that will better your mortal experience.”

As the song goes on, the instrumentation swells with increasing complexity, and the line between the singer and the sufferer seems to become blurred. Race sings about the darkness deepening, the dangers of desire, acquiring fears, learning lessons and fundamental interior changes, before finally returning to the first person point of view to tell the sufferer “You’re using my pain as your crutches/I refuse to be there for the bust.”

“For most of my life,” Race wrote, “there was a conflict between my thoughts and actions. On that day I came to this realization and wrote this song to serve as inspiration for myself during my transformation. It will always be near and dear to my heart as I continue to try to live in the present moment.”

It seems Race has been in a space of creation for quite some time, choosing to write new music in lieu of performing with Raven and the Wren. The space has resulted in producing “Second Chances,” and Race indicates there is more to come.

“It is essential to step away, create, redefine and re-emerge,” Race wrote. “I’ve been off the stage but not off of work. Later this year Raven and the Wren will be releasing a five track EP that takes my material out from under the Americana umbrella and into a totally different sound genre. After that, there’s already a lineup of songs ready to go for a full-length album in 2020.”

According to Race, the conditions are present in Raven and the Wren for continued creation, using a somewhat open format that is guided by the music and the energy of whomever seems most in sync with the current trajectory of Raven and the Wren’s morphic resonance.

“Raven and the Wren has taken on a fluid state,” Race wrote. “I’m able to choose who to create with, depending on the sound/vibe I’d like to experiment with. Keeping it flexible has allowed me to reach farther and farther into new territories and work with a variety of musicians while continuing to honor the themes of my songwriting.”

Clearly, Race is in full stride with a lucid and evolving musical vision, permeated with the blessings of abundance and creation.

“I’m sincerely grateful for all those that join me in my musical journey as Raven and the Wren,” Race wrote.

Kevin Briggs is a writer and musician who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.