Waiting For a Sign, M. Lockwood Porter (from the Black Mesa Records release Communion in the Ashes)
M. Lockwood Porter is on a quest, longing to step beyond the anguish and misery he sees around him in hopes of finding a better place, personally and for everyone.
The opening – and title – track freely acknowledges the depths to which we’ve sunk. “There used to be a blueprint for dignity and hope,” he sings, “but the threads have all unraveled at the end of this old rope.” Yet, rather than wallow in misery he implores, “I hope that you won’t drop out, give up or get numb. Just find a drum to beat on. Pick up a guitar and strum.”
“Waiting for a Sign” turns the focus inward, lamenting his personal state. Again, however, he offers a glimmer of hope, “we’re tough enough to take it but this ain’t no way to live, some shit has gotta change, something’s gotta give.”
The mix of optimism and defiance grows as the album progresses. Porter spits out a litany of societal grievances in the percussive “Get Back to the Wild” but declares, “where the market and the state conspire to grind you in the gears, but now the freedom’s buzzing ‘round me like the wisdom of a child.”
Later, “The Dream Is Dead” offers an obituary for the past alongside a rallying cry for the future. “Our redemption song can topple walls,” he proclaims, “but first we must compose it.”
Musically, Communion in the Ashes bristles with a loose but anthemic heartland rock spirit that recalls Deer Tick’s finer moments. Porter’s insistent vocals add their own sense of concern – and urgency – to his message. It’s a message and album that deserves to be heard.