VAGABONDS-the musical project of DIY artist Luke Dean-has announced the release of its debut album, I Don't Know What To Do Now, which is due out June 30 via Blood & Ink Records. Pre-orders are on sale now. Dean has released the LP's lead single, "Paralysis," along with an accompanying music video. He has issued a statement on the song's meaning, which reads as follows:
"'Paralysis' is about a time that was very dark in my life, but it wasn't visibly dark to everyone around me. I was silently battling deep depression and loneliness and fighting self destructive tendencies that were brooding inside of me. After a culmination of difficult life events, I was left feeling purposeless and alone. I didn't want to follow God anymore. My focus was skewed, and my view of my life and self worth were blurry. I wanted to numb myself with drugs and other forms of self destruction to help me forget how lonely and worthless I felt. Still, there was something inside of my soul holding me back from destroying myself.
This was all hard to talk about and confront, as I had considered myself someone who had 'beat depression.' I had already made it to the other side of hopelessness earlier in my life. Why was I slipping back? So there I remained confined to my bed, physically and seemingly spiritually unable to move. If I got up and went out, I felt like I was going to do something to unhealthy, so I just stayed put. I would lie paralyzed on my bed staring into nothing until the battle raging inside of me reached a calm.
Disclaimer: I don't say any of this to pass judgement. I'm not shaming or condemning anyone for using substances. They just would have been very self destructive in my case and context."
1. A Memory
2. A Self Fulfilling Prophecy
3. Déjà Vu (I Am Still Afraid)
4. Ambulance (I Am Nothing)
6. Thanks Anyways
8. Old Friends, Wherever You Are
There are bands like Grand Rapids, Michigan's VAGABONDS, whose music is so personal, so intimate, that it eclipses these other purposes for the listener, and the album becomes almost memoir-esque. I Don't Know What To Do Now, the band's first full-length, is singer-songwriter Luke Dean's story, a memory book stuffed full of black and white photos, of powerful quotes, of artifacts of a life survived.
The album starts with "A Memory," in which Dean quite literally recounts a moment in his life as if reading an excerpt from his diary, but quickly moves into "A Self Fulfilling Prophecy," a song whose mood and melody transports the listener to this scene. Here, gentle guitars cradle Dean's subdued voice while a lonely trumpet floats above them. toward the end of the album, a song like "Nineveh" offers the counterpoint; Dean screams, "I close my eyes and I see violence," above tumbling drums during a tense verse, then repeats, "I am darker than you think," as his guitar paces back and forth like a caged tiger. But on most of I Don't Know What To Do Now, Dean sets his scenes using only his voice and his Telecaster. When a quiet beat swells at the end of "Paralysis," when a tambourine shivers on "Ambulance (I Am Nothing)," it's easy not to notice. This is because Dean's delicate melodies and brave confessions possess enough weight. His songs are about heavy subjects: depression and self-care and suicide-and, of course, courage and redemption.
Ultimately, bands like Vagabonds offer the listener little room for interpretation. But here they get something more than, say, another expressive portrait or a mere political manifesto; they get honesty, passion, catharsis, all candid and raw-Luke Dean's truth, his whole self.
VAGABONDS' I Don't Know What To Do Now will be available worldwide starting June 30 via Blood & Ink Records.