Ten years since 'The Midnight Organ Fight'.
For many of us, this record means more than most. This was the music we learned our lessons to – as we fell in and out of love, listening to some songs so much we didn’t feel we could listen to them ever again. For me, it sounds like growing up. Learning what life was about, and what it could contain. And now, I guess, how it can change and carry on.
'Tiny Changes' is a tribute - a series of interpretations by friends, with a cast that ranges from Biffy Clyro to Daughter; The Twilight Sad to Craig Finn. Some are loyal explorations of the original – like Josh Ritter’s gorgeously joyful, blue-grassy rendition of 'Old Old Fashioned', flecked with fiddle. Others, like Jeff Zeigler’s shimmering take on 'Extrasupervery', rip things up and begin anew.
It’s telling that the people who inspired Frightened Rabbit to write songs are part of this musical fabric. Benjamin Gibbard’s ghostly cover of 'Keep Yourself Warm', strips things down to the grain, warning us that there’s no shortcut to intimacy. Aaron Dessner from The National joins forces with Lauren Mayberry for the pitch-black humour of ‘Who’d You Kill Now?’.
A shadow hangs over the record, of course. Scott Hutchison, who wrote and sung these songs first, died in 2018. But absence is another form of presence, and his spirit is here to be found. He was an instrument in this record, fully involved in its creation. Alongside the band, he approved the tracks and artists. He began to create the artwork before the unthinkable happened.
Covered by their close friends, The Twilight Sad, ‘Floating in the Forth’ is the most majestic song on the album. It is almost unbearably painful to listen to, as James Graham wrenches agony from what became prophetic words. The lyric, "I think I’ll save suicide for another year", an intention clearly written and plainly sung, has taken on new meaning. This is a mourning song now.
It is testament to the strength and determination of Frightened Rabbit and the people around them that they dredged courage from unspeakable grief to carry this through. To celebrate a record that they worked on together and give it the honour that it deserves. To give these songs another life. Because this record is about living, even as it is shaped by loss.
They make the tiny changes, as the grieving do. Re-frame what is left, and keep him alive within.
Words: Marianne Gallagher
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