The River North
As the Act comes to an end we’re met with a somber piano piece, and a hidden track at the end that’s not really even a track. The River North leaves us anticipating the future of Hunter and where his life will lead us, with subtle foreshadowing of what’s to come. In this entry I’m going to do my best to summarize the events of the album, as well as add in anything that wasn’t mentioned in an earlier post.
Act I: The Lake South, The River North was a glimpse of the setting that Casey has created for us, creating a vivid landscape set in the early twentieth century. We learned about the childhood of a naive boy, the life his mother shamefully lead, and the notorious ploy of a manipulative charlatan. This act served as a prologue to the story, giving us a basic understanding of the situation these characters face.
Into The Music
With only a piano and upright bass in the song, we return to a minimalism similar to the beginning of the album with Battesimo del Fuoco and The Lake South. For the first sixteen measures we have just the piano playing, giving us a slow and simple arrangement in the key of Ab. There’s some interesting secondary dominant chords being played, with the left hand playing steady quarter notes under the right hands’ octave melody. After those sixteen bars we get the bass coming in, playing selective notes to emphasize different beats and to help lead into some of the chord changes. The chords move around the key with secondary dominants coming in on occasion, and at one point there’s a bVII borrowed from the parallel minor. The song continues until at one point it lands on the tonic chord, and stays there for a while before the piano and bass finally stop and fade away.
But wait! There’s more! After about a minute and a half of silence, we get an applause from the crowd, and an ensemble that slowly ascends into a dissonant frenzy, stopping abruptly. This ends the album, leaving a strong sense of unease after the relaxing piece that we started with before the silence. The title of this song acts as a counter to the earlier song The Lake South, once again showing the polarity of what the two represent. Hunters’ home by the lake is his childhood, and represents where his story truly begins. It’s a secure serenity, albeit with questions left unanswered. By the end of the Act, Hunters’ heart strays from his home and wants to explore the unknown, in the rapid and unforgiving City represented by the River that lies north.
This album marked a pivotal point in Casey Crescenzo’s career, as he ventured into the story he needed to tell. This began a saga that is still being told over a decade later, as people like me write extensive blogs about it, as forum sites theorize over the story before me, and as fan pages continue to create discussion and excitement. Hunter is a naive boy, sheltered from the world by his well-intentioned mother. And as we all know, this just makes life a lot harder for the child when he has to grow up and realize that life sucks for the naive.
In the acts to come we see Hunter go through different stages of his life, some relatable to the average person, and some hopefully not relatable to any of you reading this. Each of the acts deals with new and returning characters, and there’s a lot more depth to the following four acts, as they all have nearly double the amount of songs as Act I. I’m going to start writing these a lot more and in between acts might have some other concept albums that I’ll be looking at, although not as in depth. Be sure to subscribe in the footer of the site to stay updated, and comment or contact me if you have any suggestions or comments about the series as I move into the next Act. I’ll be releasing my own music soon as well, so be sure to check out the rest of the site and thanks for reading! If you enjoy The Dear Hunter or my blogs, please consider supporting the band by purchasing their music and merchandise, as well as supporting them at shows when they come to town. At the very least be sure to give the music an honest listen, projects like The Dear Hunter are a huge inspiration to artists and the passion that comes from a project like Casey’s is what motivates people like me to continue with my creative endeavors. Once again thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my first step into this project of mine.