SONG CLUB REVIEW: “Great Divide” by Eagle and Hawk
(This post is based on the script Mark David Stallard wrotefor The Invisible Song Club live show.)
“Great Divide” starts with the Piano playing a chord on firstbeat of the bar, with the left hand tapping out 8th beats. Drums andbass join in after a few bars, with the bass guitar hitting a quickly ascendingand descending walk. As the first verse starts, the bass takes a step back,leaving room for the vocals.
A simple drumbeat drives the song forward with the piano continuingplaying chords on the first beat of the bar. Then halfway through the verse, a keyboardstarts playing chords on 8th beats.
The vocals come in with a couple of short staccato phrasesthat leave us briefly hanging, then the melody flows up and brings us down, buthigher than expected, but it is still satisfying, and helps to keep thattension rolling through the second half of the verse.
The vocals are rich and warm. You can feel some subtleemotions in the voice. And it’s nice for once to be able to hear every singleword. Not once did I have to ask myself “What did he say?”
The chorus comes together with an electric guitar pickingout a simple arpeggio, which really creates a nice fat sound. Backup vocalsjoin, singing a close harmony, but it is dialled back, letting the lead vocaldominate. The melody of the chorus climbs and falls, but again it doesn’t takeus back to the root. Down to where the song started. Rather each phrase seemsto end a step or two higher. Not wholly resolving the tension.
After the second verse and repeated chorus, theinstrumentation takes a short break, with some virtual silences. This createssome expectation, knowing something is coming. Then sure enough it picks upagain. Then this is repeated, but this time we get a nice heartfelt guitarsolo, as “come a little closer” is sung in the background. The guitar solo comesacross as if it is improvised, as it has a bit of a jazzy feel. Though Isuspect the guitarist wrote it and rehearsed it this way. But It adds somethingsweet as the song comes to a close.
And with this the song fades out. Usually, this bothers me.Why not end the song properly? But In this case it works really well. As itdoesn’t just quickly fade, but rather does it quite slowly and deliberately. Tome this suggests that the world’s problems which have NOT been resolved in thesong, nor that there is a possible solution. So just as the topic pointed outin the lyric will continue into the future, so does the song. This is not asimple fade out by uniformly turning the volume down on everything at once. TheLead guitar seems to hold it’s volume as the rest of the instrumentation startsto fade. It is here that the reverb on the lead guitar becomes noticeable,echoing as everything else fades, before it too fades out.
The topic of the song is very timely. A world where no onetrusts anyone else. However, whether we like it or not we’re stuck in themiddle of something over which we have no control. And I think that’s reallywhat the song is saying. We’re divided. But we don’t want to be divided. This is stated quite well in the chorus.
So just as the lyrics leave us without a solution, so the tensionin the melody remains only partially resolved. And I think that’s what makesthis song work as a whole.
It’s a very timely piece indeed.
-- Mark David Stallard