I will never regret quoting Mr. T to title this post.
Over the past year, there’s been one specific album that I’ve fallen in love with. For me, the real test of an album is whether I return to it, again and again, with a new favorite song or lyric in mind. In this case, I know for a fact that several were on my Top Tracks List for 2016(which is one of my favorite things that Spotify compiles, TBH).
Ryn Weaver’s debut album, The Fool, features 11 nearly-perfect tracks with a single, unifying theme. Here’s what Ryn said about it, in her own words:
“The record poses the question: Is it foolish to settle for what you always thought you wanted as a 22-year-old woman, or is it foolish to go and leave what’s so beautiful, stable, and certain? I think that’s a question a lot of young women have these days, especially coming from a generation of girls who — in my opinion— have less of a road map. It’s not just about being a woman: It’s about being a modern human and about fear of commitment.”
22-year-old woman. Making choices. Becoming an adult.
That’s me, folks. A 22-year-old woman about to graduate from college, who recently had to choose whether to stay in Grand Rapids or return home. As I re-listened to The Fool this weekend, it took on a whole new dimension of meaning for me as I go through my last month of classes.
So let’s get started.
Track One: Runaway
- As first tracks go, this song sets the tempo for the entire album. Clever lines steeped in emotion drive the verses with lines like these: “they tell me temper, temper, little lady/Better bite that tongue, it is not becoming/My blood boils rapids to break the levee/And let it keep on running, running.” All of this leads into the chorus, a refrain of that fear of commitment the artist spoke about: “runaway/run, run, run.”
Track Two: OctaHate
- I won’t pretend to say that I know what “OctaHate” means, but it sure is a catchy title for a catchy song. Check out this imagery: “lost in the cracks/of the landslide/you saw me slipping on/my blind side/I’m feeling lost/feeling tongue-tied/and now I’m frozen/in your headlights.” Do you sense the desperation, the feeling of being trapped? Because I definitely do.
Track Three: Pierre
- This is probably tied for my favorite track on this album, simply in terms of fun. I love how it starts off with these grand stories of love and conquests, only to progress to this honest chorus: “I can’t let him in/you call me up and ask me how I’ve been/I’ll call your bluff and/keep on telling, telling, telling you lies/keep on telling, telling, telling you lies/no, I can’t let him in/you play me rough, but I won’t let you in/so, call my bluff, I’ll/keep on telling, telling, telling you lies/keep on telling, telling, telling you lies/oh, count down to the day they may come true.” And then she launches into the next story, but now, as a listener, you know what’s she really thinking. You know it’s a lie.
Track Four: Stay Low
- This song is a nice breather from the intense emotions of the previous songs. It’s chill and quiet, just the sort of thing for a late summer night, maybe even a drive. Lines like these show the maturing emotions of the singer: “and you know/I get so sick of the telephone/I cry and you cry/and then I thank you/tell me if your day was rough/and then you let me make it right.”
Track Five: Sail On
- Now another song of love and loss brings us back into the heart of the album. The first verse starts with a mythical allusion: “I took your hand and/held it in my clutch/but it was never mine to hold/you’re loving something/of a Midas touch/the ones you need/you turn to stone.” Ouch. Now that’s a good line.
Track Six: The Fool
- Ah, yes; the title track. Here we see the crux of Ryn Weaver’s argument, of what it means to become a fool for someone, no matter how much they think they know. As the chorus states: “So I curse my stars for a fair game/while you nurse my scars and the old flame/I’m a fool for you.” Where, then, does that leave the rest of us?
Track Seven: Promises
- And so foolishness breaks down into fear and faithlessness. This track is definitely another one of my favorites, especially as each bridge meets the chorus: “is that my lion’s pride?/I meet my mountain then I run and hide/and I cross my heart and hope to die/unless I happen to lie, I/never meant to break my own promises.” Favorite thing: acknowledgment of the fact that sometimes, lies are as unintentional as breaking a promise.
Track Eight: Free
- Now we reach the point in the album where things seem to be looking up. This track feels lighter, somehow, like the singer has found something she had no idea she would find. The lyrics read: “my compass may be broke/but you follow where I go/and you never really seem to mind it.” Finally, it seems, we are starting to find our way home.
Track Nine: Traveling Song
- Here we find a song that acknowledges the journey that we all embark upon: adulthood. As the chorus states: “oh, nobody knows where they are going/oh, how we try to wrap our minds/over the edge of all our knowings/be it a bang of the divine/tip of my iceberg, blues are showing/I’ve never been on for goodbyes/so, till I meet you there, I’m singing/a traveling song to ease the ride and so you know/everywhere I roam/I’ll see you on the road.” Good to know that everyone else is as confused as the rest of us, isn’t it?
Track Ten: Here is Home
- We are close to the conclusion of this album when we learn a very important lesson. Sometimes, home doesn’t end up being a place, but a person. That’s when you know the search is over. Here’s my favorite line from one of the bridges: “oh, chase the greener road/everybody roams but you.”
Track Eleven: New Constellations
- This final song is again tied for my favorite. It shows the final thoughts of the singer after learning how to act “the fool.” There are so many good lines, it’s hard to pick just one: “so keep calling me crazy ’cause I never learned/you should stop loving fire because you got burned/now it feels like I’m living some sick déjà vu/like the answers were there when I stared into you.” Okay, so I’ll pick two: “’cause it’s hard to believe that it’s wrong/to want more than the truest of blue and a love like a roar/I will run to wherever I want to go.”
We are left with the message that we have the freedom to go where we want to go, but in truth, this may be less of a destination and more of a concept, even a person. I love reaching the end of this album because it has such an infinite, thoughtful conclusion. Even when we act “the fool,” we can still gain wisdom in the end.