It was six o’clock in the morning. It was 2005. As the sun rose in Denton, Texas Glossary finished some overdubs, took a moment to slug celebratory shots of Jameson, snapped a group photo and embarked to their van for the journey back to life-as-usual in Middle Tennessee. That quick succession of events would be a poignant moment for any band. But for singer / songwriter Joey Kneiser that morning also bore the weight of a prophecy he had only recently committed to tape:
Two and a half weeks of living with a purpose
Cut across the heart of America
Hoping to see things a little bit clearer
And lose the desperation tailing us
A lot of faith rides shotgun on that long drive home. So it is no coincidence that the above song, As Far As Fear Will Take You, comes towards the tail end of For What I Don’t Become, the fourth and latest album from the Murfreesboro, Tennessee quintet. After spending two weeks and change putting their hearts, hands and souls into the thing they care about the most, you have to wonder if they would even want to go home at all. Just keep moving.
Glossary’s oeuvre is ripe with some fine journalism, but For What I Dont Become contains their best. Whether meditating on mortality (Headstones and Dead Leaves and Time Rolling), love (Poor Boy), or America’s ever encroaching claustrophobia (American Bruises), For What I Dont Become beautifully captures the essence of what its like to be young and full of hope despite short time and long odds. These are restless songs for restless souls and with them come sentiments celebratory, sacred, and more than a little weary, but always brave. After all, there is a precedent: Glossary’s previous album, 2003’s How We Handle Our Midnights was a love letter to the nocturnal. If that album was a long night out, For What I Don’t Become is the next day, questioning, purposeful and ready for whats next.
Recorded by Centro-Matics Matt Pence at his studio, The Echo Lab, For What I Don’t Become is Glossary’s biggest and best sounding record yet. Like their contemporaries Lucero and The Drive-By Truckers, Glossary mix their strong narratives with punk gravitas, tight musicianship and illustrious twang. But For What I Don’t Become sets itself apart from the (dare I say) alt-country pack with arrangements that soar with an exuberance only matched by the lyrical content. The band makes sharp turns with arms locked together, acoustic guitars give way to the slow crackle of an amp feeding back, pedal steel, keys and various percussion join the sway, and Kelly Kneiser’s harmonies quell the chaos that threatens every bend. Whether burning slowly or brimming with Stones-y swagger every song of For What I Don’t Become breathes determined.
As Glossary rode back to Tennessee, one might wonder if these words took found lodging in the bands collective subconscious:
You fell asleep with your head on the window
I saw the sun rise at the Tennessee line
For a second I saw myself a year ago
Before I knew what it felt like to be alive
Fear is a great motivator. Besides, when you’ve come this far why give up? Calling For What I Don’t Become Glossary’s best record might be a little presumptuous especially since the next chapter is already written and ready to be recorded. In the meantime Glossary have a masterpiece on their hands, and heres to hoping it will take them a long way.