Arthur Alligood: Portage, Vol. 1

 

My first introduction to Arthur Alligood’s work was his stripped-down acoustic album The Shadow Can’t Have Me. The honesty in his lyrics struck me, and I looked forward to his new project with anticipation. Portage, Vol. 1: At the Edge of the World offers more of his lyrical depth with a new musical approach, setting aside the acoustic guitar as the primary instrument and instead moving the songs through a forest of synths, piano sounds, and drum beats.

The EP kicks off with a dreamy soundscape on “Foolishness of Man.” It calls forth the moodiness of quieter Springsteen songs in a way that prepares the heart for lament but simultaneously comforts with a familiar tone. The use of the title as a refrain ending each verse emphasizes the plaintive lament about our culture’s tendency toward judgmental attitudes and actions. The Portage project name comes from the ending lyrics, “I stand here on the shoreline / I will take the portage path / ‘Cause only love will end this hatred: the foolishness of man.”

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From Dust To

The Lord God, our Word, pressed round wild David,
Brought to bloom within the cathedral of Mary.

He is Spring reigniting—the glory of impossible
YES, a sapped ointment cooling the leprosy of NO.

He is instructor and extractor of self,
Plumb-line Thought and lush-dipped Feel.

Selah—my blood and marrow under chatty inked skin
Draw no distinctions, as no formal presence

Contains my name on His breath—sung
Beyond and before my family’s embodiment.

To live is Now and Then—Silent and Blistering,
Water in mooned cycles melting mountains.

You and me—Exhaled into dust each one—
So content claiming Genesis in the wind.

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On Starting from Scratch

I spent a lot of time when I was younger wishing that I could do certain things. My older brother is an artist who works primarily with metal via blacksmithing. My dad is a lifelong commercial carpenter who, in my mind, can build just about anything. To see them create things with their hands was, and is, incredibly inspiring. The idea of creating something, anything, whether practical or artistic, has been deeply imbedded in me from birth.

What was also imbued in me from birth was a wonderful sense of self-defeatism.

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Charging the Congregation

I sat in the passenger seat of my friends’ car as Indiana beamed under a rare mild July day outside. Cornfields sped by and washed into an impressionist blur. Stephen was driving, and Rachel sat behind me. The Greatest Showman played in the background for the kids.

“When you’re careless with other people, you bring ruin upon yourself,” said an actress.

The adult dialogue up front felt similar. We talked about divorce among our friends. In my short marriage thus far—thirteen years—being close to divorced young people has been not only an emerging theme, but a cup of great frustration. I wrote a song about the relative pain of it years ago; it’s emotionally nauseating merely to hover near the situation. Looking in, I can’t imagine the soul-wounds sustained on the inside of the upheaval. Once you’re so close to a person—intimately, emotionally, dependently—there’s no way to completely extricate that person from your heart. Divorced people know this, and the rest of us can guess. My most pressing complaint during our Indiana drive was different, however, because I remember my cousin’s wedding.

My uncle was officiating, and he took the opportunity to lay out the reason for an old tradition.

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