Humble Digs, A Portrait of Grace, March 2018
RIYL: Donovan, Devendra Banhart
Some bands are satisfied with getting things tracked; Humble Digs just built us a little world. It feels like this took a long time to make, and that’s a good thing. I love how these songs flow into each other; I love the energy suspended in each one, and in each transition. This is some smooth, pretty indie rock.
I initially balked at the concept of this record: A Portrait of Grace is a series of songs about a fictional woman, told from the perspective of several men in her life (not just lovers but fathers, brothers, etc.). “All claim to love her yet likely only put her on a pedestal, and at times see her as more of a reflection of their own insecurities,” Jake Slater wrote me in his pitch email.
Well, heck. It goes to show you, never judge a book by its back cover description. This is a tender, gorgeous, and romantic record, respectful of its concept. Men have been using women as their mirrors for all of eternity (can confirm, am a woman). But this is not a one-sided, man-as-victim, run-of-the-mill record. Through it, we see a woman deified, and we hear real urgency, heartache, and admiration.
Humble Digs has captured the electricity and mystery of love, of loving someone who seems to shadow you, who you have no choice but to look up to. “There is no venus in my heavens,” Slater sings on “Tower.” “Grace, you tower over me.”
“Can you hear me / are you listening / can you feel me / in your bloodstream / are you flying? / are you floating? / there is freedom in not knowing,” he sings on “Bloodstream,” my knockout favorite track on this record.
If you’re not convinced, here is a little more to love: There are TEN musician credits on this record. The emotional punctuation of a lot of it comes from stringed instruments–women are playing those. So this record and its concept is also balanced by egalitarian practice. Go listen to it.