Don't Believe Every Story You're Told
Local poet and songwriter Jim Lundy has done the unthinkable. He has filled an album of 12 songs, many of them quite long, with only his guitar and his voice. Very few people can carry a song with just words, as Lundy does several times on Don't Believe Every Story You're Told, but even fewer can write words as alternately beautiful, insightful, and funny as his.
For Lundy, who hosts Monday Night Poetry and Music at the East Bay Meeting House and is the former president of the S.C. Poetry Society, there is no difference between poetry and songwriting. For the best songwriters — the Townes Van Zandts and Leonard Cohens of the world — there never is. The words are the key; the voice is merely the vessel through which they pass, and the guitar is mainly there to keep time. And if you're interested in meaningful lyrics, this is a good thing.
Lundy is clearly a student of the talking blues, the old tradition that Bob Dylan and several other old folkies dabbled in. He rarely sings on the record, and it wouldn't make sense if he did. His voice sounds like Cohen, which is not an insult, but it's also not nearly as much of a compliment as saying he writes like Cohen.
While some tracks on Don't Believe Every Story You're Told meander and others, like "Tina Tangerine," are silly, it doesn't matter. All these tools are important in the storyteller's arsenal. "God Doesn't Talk to His People," is quick and clever, walking us through the history of Christianity with a fantastically sardonic tone. However, the song that will really grab you, "Sarah's Just Like That," does so with the stunning visuals and emotions Lundy's words bring forth.
To illustrate my point, we'll cede the floor to Lundy, who starts off the best track of the album like this: "Lately I've been dreaming/Bout icebergs in the ocean/How they say what you see/Has its underwater twin/Like the roots of trees/Growing and dividing/And mountains are misleading/There's something that they're hiding/Sarah's just like that/There's less out in the open/You can fall into her eyes/And rapidly descend."
Through several verses, he continues to paint Sarah's portrait in metaphor. Every man has his own Sarah, and as the song builds, listeners will be able to create a vivid picture of her every angle and mannerism.
Strictly in terms of songwriting, there's not a whole lot more you can do.