By the Grace of Dynamite

by Hemlock Smith

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about

Mostly written and designed in Michael Frei’s cellar, the album features a great many acoustic sounds that were mainly recorded live, reminding you of the sound recording techniques that were used before the Second World War, before the studio era. The golden rule was: a piano, a microphone and a singer. To bring the record into the modern age, ambient soundscapes (as well as some soulful guitar playing) were tastefully woven into the mix by Fred Merk, who produced the record and co-wrote most of the tunes. Also collaborating were Andy Ellison (Steel Guitar, from Nashville, Tennessee) and Jean-Samuel Racine on Clarinet. The tracks were then mastered by Husky Höskulds, well known sound engineer from Los Angeles, who has worked with such greats as Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Fantômas and Solomon Burke.
Calm and melancholy, these new songs by Michael Frei were captured in the raw, without a net. They most certainly represent his most painfully honest secret garden, revealing all and holding back none.
The lyrics will introduce you to a young Moondog, to Charles Baudelaire shortly before his death and to peasants holding fairs during war, starvation or the plague. But mostly, you will meet a whole bunch of haunted souls, caught in the turmoil of time flying by too quickly.

credits

released August 22, 2016

Mixed and Produced by Fred Merk
Mastered by S. Husky Höskulds

Michael Frei: Vocals, Piano, Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Philips Philicorda Organ, MicroKorg Synth, Roland Digital Drummer CR-1000, Percussion
Fred Merk: Acoustic, Electric and Slide Guitars, Vocals, Ukulele, Pianetta, Glockenspiel, Harmonica, Flute, Percussion, Cassette Recorder, some Synths, Field Recordings
and Sonic Treatments
Andy Ellison: Pedal Steel Guitar
Jean-Samuel Racine: Clarinet
Philippe Simon : Trumpet

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about

Hemlock Smith Lausanne, Switzerland

Hemlock Smith come from Lausanne (Switzerland). Since 2002, they’ve released five regular albums with intelligent pop, as well as two soundtracks for silent film and a collaboration with electronic Noise duo Les Poissons Autistes. Fronted by singer-songwriter Michael Frei, Hemlock Smith's distinctive voice is complemented by the delicate guitar playing of Fred Merk for his new and 5th album. ... more

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Track Name: County Fair
County Fair

I met a girl at county fair
Kissed her among the thyme
I had to touch her silken hair
I had to make her mine
Oh Lord, what was I doing ?
I fell under her spell
I met a girl at county fair
Now she hates me just like Hell.

I met the girl on Christmas Eve
Her belly firm and round
She turned her back, prepared to leave
But did not make a sound
Oh Lord, what was I doing ?
The guilt ! This awful stench !
I wed the girl on Christmas Eve
Now she hates me like the French !

I met a girl at county fair
Her hands caressed my chest
Her eyes just had the strangest glare
Our lips then did the rest
Oh Lord, what were we doing ?
Disgrace is where we fell
I met a girl at county fair
We suit each other well.

I met a girl at county fair
We suit each other well.
Track Name: Celebrate
Celebrate

They’ve all come to celebrate
An hour or so to illuminate
The doom that awaits them as soon as they’re back home
The gloom
Where feeble candles shimmer
Along silent, lonely dinners
And hopeless dawns where the thoughts forever roam

They’ve all come to celebrate
An hour or so to anticipate
The doom that awaits them as soon as they’re back home
The gloom
Where hardship rhymes with dying
Forever weak, forever trying
To say your prayers when you know you’re all alone…

Oh Celebrate…
Celebrate…
Celebrate…
Celebrate…

Oh Celebrate…
Celebrate…
Celebrate…

For when the clock strikes twelve
Cinderellas flee in a dash
For when the clock strikes five
Back to the field, the mine, the ash

We’ve all come to celebrate
An hour or so to contemplate
How our lives could be if we stood a chance
Just a glance !
At brightly coloured futures
Illusions hardly nurtured…
If there is no doubt---how it all turns out…
Well, then let’s---

Celebrate…
Celebrate…
Celebrate…
Celebrate…
Celebrate…
Celebrate…
Track Name: Across the Rio Grande
Across the Rio Grande

Whatever the cost for you and me, my dear
I’ll pack my things and go
Whatever the cost for you and me, my dear
I’ll pack my things and go
Oh, I’ll fly
Oh, I’ll fly right across the Rio Grande.

If they lock me up or gun me down
Another bareback’s come to pay
My spirit will rise and ride the sun
All the way to Santa Fe
Oh, I’ll fly
Oh, I’ll fly right across the Rio Grande.
Track Name: Gropiusallee
(instrumental)
Track Name: Mr. Philips
Mr. Philips

Mr. Philips
Steady on his way home
Mr. Philips
With a burger in his pack
Mr. Philips
Always the saint among the neighbors
He did not kill them
Never saw the attack.

Mr. Philips
Mr. Philips
Mr. Philips
Track Name: Baudelaire, Brussels, 1866
Baudelaire, Brussels, 1866

Let us love gently. In his lair laid low,
Ambushed in shades, Love strings his fatal bow.
I know his ancient arsenal complete,
Crime, horror, lunacy — O my pale daisy!
Are we not suns in Autumn, silver-hazy,
O my so white, so snow-cold Marguerite?

(Sonnet d’Automne—Charles Baudelaire, as translated by Roy Campbell, 1952)

***********************

If my sorrow came to vanish
And my fears would go to sleep
Oh ! Find a paradise untarnished
And some happiness to keep

This could be the most beautiful day in my life
This could be the most beautiful day in my life
So far…
So far…

If my troubles came to reason
Would my anguish fade ; in time ?
I could have a change of season
And finally find a perfect rhyme

This could be the most beautiful year in my life
This could be the most beautiful -
This could be the most beautiful year in my life
So far…

If my sorrow
Oh, my sorrow
Came to pass

How long for a beautiful
How long for a beautiful
I long for a beautiful day in my life

How long, for a beautiful
How long, for a beautiful
How long, for a beautiful day in my life ?
Track Name: By the Grace of Dynamite
By the Grace of Dynamite

I found a dynamite cap – on the railroad track
And it blew up in my face.
I lost my sight – and everything – that day – it seemed
But what I found was - grace.
Track Name: Still, the Waters
Still, the Waters

We anguish that the moon
Might shoo away the sun
We ponder and we swoon
When all is said and done
And through our open doors
The winds of change will blow
For richer or for poorer
Noone shall ever know

And still the waters
Still the waters
Flow
Still the waters flow

And may our inner stream
Of consciousness arise
In every wondrous dream
The devil’s in disguise
What will the river bring ?
What will the future show ?
We shiver as we sing
We die just as we grow

But still the waters
Still the waters
Run
Still the waters run…

Still they run…
They run…

And still the waters
Still the waters
Flow.
Still the waters flow.
Track Name: Blacks and Whites / A Single Breath, This Futile Bird
Blacks and Whites

Would you play some chess with me ?
Blacks and whites, for all to see
How it all comes down to this
Nothing here – in life is free.

Won’t you play some chess with me ?
Blacks and whites are plain to see, the
Longer game, the fewer pawns
Nothing here – will last till dawn.

Would you talk it through with me ?
Blacks and whites are all we see
In this shaded universe
Nothing here is- neither wish nor curse.

Won’t you talk it through with me ?
Blacks and whites won’t do for me
Neither sad nor glad to sing
Queen is lost – on goes the King.


**********************************

A Single Breath, this Futile Bird
(instrumental)
Track Name: Fall Back on my Feet
Fall Back on my Feet

Oh if I fall back on my feet I’ll let you know
I’ll leave a message or a card right at your door
But I won’t talk about all the things that I’ve been missing – since you left me –
If I fall back on my feet I’ll let you know

Oh if I fall back on my feet I’ll let you go
I won’t be the dusty carpet on your bedroom floor
And I won’t say a word about the times when I wasn’t breathing– since you left me –
If I fall back on my feet I’ll let you go –
I’ll let you go….
Track Name: Kometenakkord
(instrumental)
Track Name: Bury the Dead
Bury the Dead

Bury the Dead
And let them be
Don’t let them come back
And pull at your sleeve

Sign them off
And then close the lid
Don’t let the yearbooks
Loosen your grip

Close the door
And hear yourself breathe
Don’t let them whisper
In your ear while you sleep

And I know it’s hard…
Yes, I know
Oh I know it’s hard…
Yes, I know…
Oh, I know…

Bury the Dead
And let them rest
Sing when your sorrow
Puts you to test

Scatter their ashes
Beneath a tree
And then let it grow
For the shade it will give

Bury the Dead
But remember their names
The eyes of your children
Will carry their flame

And I know it’s hard…
Yes, I know
Oh I know it’s hard…
Yes, I know…

To bury the dead…
-to bury the dead…
To bury the dead…
-to bury the dead…
Track Name: Hurley, Missouri, 1932
(instrumental)
Track Name: Thank God I found you, Virginia Sledge
(only the "F" word)
Track Name: It's all a Game
It’s all a Game

Someone’s great lake is another man’s pond
Someone’s tall brunette is another man’s blonde
Someone’s feather is another man’s chain
Someone’s loss is another man’s gain.

Someone’s cold wind is another man’s breeze
Somebody’s itch makes another man sneeze
Someone’s black coat is another man’s vest
Somebody’s worst is another man’s best.

And it’s all
It’s all a Game

Someone’s corner is another man’s line
Someone’s paycheck is another man’s fine
Someone’s garment is another man’s fleece
Someone’s battle is another man’s peace.

And it’s all
It’s all a Game

Someone’s silence is another man’s talk
Someone crawling helps another man walk
Someone’s yearning is another man’s bore
Somebody’s truth is another man’s lore.

Someone’s calling is another man’s fear
Someone’s “far away” is another man’s “here”
Somebody’s rise is another man’s fall
Someone’s “nothing” is another man’s “all”.

But it’s all
It’s all a Game
Track Name: (BONUS)_I found my Baby Dying
I found my baby dying

I found my baby dying
In the parlour ; home on parole
She wore her silk pyjamas
I couldn’t count the holes

I found my baby dying
And the silver on her ring
Was like a stern reminder
Of the damn fool I have been

I found my baby dying
And now they’ll come for me
I shan’t move, I’ll stay beside her
There’s nowhere I’d rather be

Than with my baby
Than with my baby
Than with my baby
Track Name: (BONUS)_The Hollow Bells
The Hollow Bells

Oh, we dance
To the sound of our trembling hearts break
It’s the biggest mistake
Yet, we dance…

Yes, we dance
To the hum of our solitudes cling
Even cornered, we sing
And we dance
It’s Romance…

It’s the sound of despair
As we cry in the streets
It’s our cold blooded murders
It’s our biggest defeats
In the silence to come
When we can’t carry on
We long for the days, when
We danced and we sung, oh…

Renaissance
Is a word that I don’t understand
If we’re born then we die
And it’s out of our hands
Yet we dance and we sing
Let the hollow bells ring
And the dead all join in
As we dance
As we dance

We give in to a fleeting sensation of joy
And the boys all like girls and the girls all like boys, oh…

Circumstance
Is the rule that allows him to strike
The sure-footed demon
Or God, if you like

And we dance
To his beat
Let the hollow bells ring
And the dead all join in
As we dance

And we dance…