Balletesque (2009)

by The Young Republic

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BBC Music Review of Balletesque
by Michael Quinn

"Balletesque pirouettes with an almost nonchalant ease through shadow-cast, menace-edged tales of errant salesmen, bootleggers, preachers, outlaws and assorted misfits, all of whom are brought to flesh-and-blood life against a pointedly assembled backdrop of musical references.

Dotted with jazz-like details and classically-accented interludes – the overture-like Introduction; the operatic intensity of Tidal Wave; the razor-edged violin in The Alchemist – it’s an offering of Dickensian dimensions, richly populated, ripely moral and redolently delineated in Julian Saporiti’s lyrical, narrative-driven novellas-in-song.

As skilfully stitched together as 2008’s 12 Tales From Winter City, this new offering is no less smoothly executed although the edges are deliberately rougher – Rose Parade’s stabbing percussion and slicing guitar chords; the take-no-prisoners assault of the title track – and, in the deceptively languid Autumns in the Trees, also noticeably rawer.

Embracing old and new influences – from Dylan and late, Lennon-led Beatles to Pixies and Arcade Fire, with The Wolf conjuring up the sort of combustible commotion you might expect from The Raconteurs – The Young Republic’s subtle borrowings and hidden homages play out against a larger, intricately designed canvas that makes significant claims for a band whose time has come."

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credits

releases September 21, 2037

The Players:
Julian Saporiti: Vocals, Guitars, Piano, Percussion
Kristin Weber: Violin, Harmony Vocals
Bob Merkl: Guitars
Chris Miller: Bass
Nate Underkuffler: Viola, Piano, Organ, Percussion
Logan Linning: Drums


The Orchestra was composed of students from the Vanderbilt Blair School of Music and additional friends

Special Thanks to:
Hamilton Berry
Katherine Neis
MJ Kim
Jon Lee
Jeremy Harris
Wes Langlois

Written and produced by Julian Saporiti
Published by West Meade Music (ASCAP)
Arranged by The Young Republic
Recorded at Sky Mountain Studios in Nashville, TN
Engineered by Morgan Hobbs and The Young Republic
Mixed by Stuart Sikes at The Track, Plano, TX
Mastered by Andrew Mendelson at Georgetown Masters, Nashville, TN
Cover Photograph: "The Old Accordionist" by Andre Kertesz, 1916

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Julian Saporiti Providence, Rhode Island

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Track Name: The Alchemist
Round white tables line gymnasiums
Your wife dances with the weight of a decade on
Depressed by diamonds, anniversaries
Class reunions mark another few years gone
Slipper-creak-steps once she's gone to sleep
Basement lights stock your poetry like arms
Holding glasses for the theatre crowd
You are a salesman who knows nothing but dead lawns
The path you blazed was paved over as soon as you began

Glass-eyed lovers so polite to fuck
Like shaking hands, she used to shake you to the bone
At the cross streets, eyes reflected red
Broken ballets in the violence of smoke
In the arches of a burning bank
Ideas of power charred down to a corner stone
A memorandum in the face of flames
Save your symphony before you end up a drone

You trapped yourself inside
The house of a villain, eating from the enemy's hands
Crawl back to your side
Reclaim your battle cry
And swing until those fiends are up and off of your land
Flail until they meet all your demands
Charge until their blood is on your hands

But you've never been so bold
Years took some tread off the wheels
You could shake the snow but where could you go
Not any place around here
Say we leave tonight
See those Northern Lights

Starving sunrise doesn't break your gaze
Bleeding steady for the first time in the light
Sign your transfer, mark and empty stage
Blocking scenes that will take you across state lines
Intimate strangers agreed to kiss the same
Inclinations that this is a last goodbye
Girl on the platform, smiling in the rain
The train is leaving at the same time you arrive
Track Name: Black Duck Blues
Bay State runner talk easy speak
Wear your pirate halo, your heart pumps gasoline
The fastest ship ever set to sea
Coast Guard cutters, sail right out of their league
In low light
In dead night
Old rum runner
Black Duck on the sea

Cheap bootlegging, that's the crime
Ditch that bathtub gin, toss that dandelion wine
New Year's Eve 1929
Pump the blood of New England's finest
In low light
In dead night
OPEN FIRE!
Black Duck on the sea

Shout no warning, flash no lights
Machine gun fire like hail into our side
A hundred rounds, maybe, two or three
I jumped overboard or they would have gotten me
In low light
In dead night
Old rum runner
Black Duck on the sea
Track Name: Napoleon Roses
Napoleon roses caught in your eyelids
Strung on your overcoat, rescind
Chariot cardinals, blue jays and hymnals
Delivered to your post enfin
Blue tinted ruby, I'm watching what you see
The war of industry on men
Nobody knows this like you do
No one is better than you

Betrayed by the service, lost in the forest
Borders and ancient walls, there is
Nothing beyond this, wandering lawless
A steady hand, a careful miss
Napoleon roses grow in your garden
Give me time I beg your pardon
Nobody knows him like you do
No one is better than you

I watched from the tower, the cardinal in power
Turn his back on you and say
Lovely Melinda, burnt to a cinder
I will be with your someday
A shot on the mark, consumed by a spark
Dignified until the end
Napoleon roses climb up the tower in tens
Nobody knows me like you do
No one was better than you
Track Name: Rose Parade
Go march in the Rose Parade
Head west to California
Burn all your business suits
Leave the ashes in the foyer
Run until the fiction slows you down

You may not find your way tomorrow
You may not open your eyes again
And if I do not wake in the morning
There is no soul to keep
There is nothing

There are simply two things I know
One, you die, two, I'll never tell ya
Fake your death, change your name, buy a pork pie hat
Make love to a young black woman
Run until the fiction slows you down

Go march in the deepest south
Dust off your Holy Bible
Shake your legs, grip your fingers round a snake
Hot faith in a tent revival
Run until the fiction slows you down

Chorus

Sir, if your path goes through Richmond
Take this ring and smile for me
Scrawl a story in the earth
Dance upon the Devil's ceiling
Run until the fiction slows you down
Track Name: Sam Clemens
The crackling of leaves
Building things that just shouldn't be
All in the name of discovering how you end
Cooking the calf (golden)
Swallowed things that you shouldn't have
Now you're feeling so awful bad
Hysterical lines I stand in

Burning the leaves
Boy saw things that no one should see
Pa's so focused on economy
The bears, the rats
No maybe he'll focus back
How much longer til we shake
Everything back into place
Awake, awake
Penny for your wicked thoughts
Do you reckon we'll get caught
I sure hope not
But I think we ought to

The crackling of leaves
What will you dress as for Halloween
When there's already such scary things
In life it seems
Maybe I'll be Sam Clemens
Track Name: Balletesque
Stranded out in the Texas dirt
Last stand 'fore you did desert
Coward, nave, oh, I should have known
Looked away and the levee broke
You let it go
Waved goodbye as we almost drowned
White trash from a mountain town
I pulled you up and your threw me down
God bled in your hands

Waiting tables or so I heard
Still go your leash on idiot girl
Your shaky groove, no, we do not miss
Selfish fool, yeah, you do exist
We'll call you Smith
Look up here child as you fall
Lord made me a wrecking ball
And I will crack you the worst of all
God bled in your hands

You're many things, one is not a man
You are nothing without this band
I forgave all those words you said
Washed my hands of your psycho head
You're less that dead
Turned around and I was betrayed
Faced up to a tidal wave
Broke my legs but it made me brave
God bled in your hands
Track Name: The Wolf
Moneymen are talking, saying all sorts of things
Moneymen talk cause the suits don't swing
That's where I come in, dress me up and send me from town to town
I see the wolf on the grounds

I crossed a potion peddler with perfume in her stare
I said, "I'm coming from the city"
She said, "I'm heading there.
My boy wrote me said troubles coming tomorrow, high noon"
I got no time, red eyes on the moon

It hasn't been this bad since my grandpa was a kid
He made it through, he never told us what he did
The Cumberland is rising, the wind blew out both of our candles
I hear the wolf at the handle

I seen a big black dog and a big black cat
A big black bear swing a big black bat
Come across my path, the river knows my time is coming soon
I got no time, red eyes on the moon

Bare feet and bleeding running through the corn
Even that stalwart old scarecrow's taken cover from the storm
All I head growing up was more, more, more, more, more
Now I hear the wolf at the door

The king is raising panic, orders from the company clout
Don't listen to a word of the speaker of the house
I met Miss Nancy once, she was working upstairs at the saloon
I got no time, red eyes on the moon

When all the world is sleeping I think about my wife
I can't stand the woman but she's the love of my life
If I get out alive I'm gonna get to a farm house and call her
I hear the wolf in the parlor

Numbers knockin everybody off of their feet
But numbers can't fight, can't bite, can't eat
Your house ain't made of numbers, ain't no bottom line in your spoon
I got no time, red eyes on the moon

Some slick white boys up in New York City
Did a greedy little jig now the world ain't so pretty
But ain't nothin' changed, ain't there wheat still growin' out in the fields?
I tell the wolf he must yield
Track Name: Bows In Your Arms
Mama, come here I'm seeing ghosts
Gold eyes and paper thin souls
We broke this ground with clean hands
When we were done we took the Capital

But I like the way you say my name
A rich kid'll pick you up again
"Just close your eyes! Close your eyes!"
You want money, you can taste the fame

Bows in your arms
I had no part in this
Blood in your eyes
This white face, it's the last thing you'll kiss

I turned it down
It must be good when it makes you sense
I turned around
I traded culture for convenience

The farm is burning and your banging keys
You are dead and you are coming with me
But I'm alive, I'm alive!"
And I am right! Oh no, I sold those rights

Bows in your arms
I had no part in this
Blood in your eyes
This white face, it's the last thing you'll kiss
Deny all you want
But you were a part of this
Bows in your arms
And numbers in your fist

Bows in your arms
I had no part in this
Blood in your eyes
This white face, it's the last thing you'll kiss
Deny all you want
But you were a part of this
Bows in your arms
And numbers in your fists
I said, No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
Bows in your arms
And numbers in your fists
Track Name: Tidal Wave
Tidal Wave...
Tidal Wave...

Blessed are the ones who take to heart the words they hear
The old cowboy quartet will sing for now the end is near
Pour the wine from seven cups, Do that Armageddon swing
Seven trumpets wailing down in New Orleans
Dance the brimstone boogie, take your faith to higher ground
I will stay and take the wave for in my head I have no seal
Even big black Ceberus has run into the hills

Tidal Wave...
Tidal Wave...
Track Name: Autumn's In The Trees
Autumn's in the trees
It's good to see something wearier than me
I hope I turn red
Before I'm dead

Love is on the scene
You might not think but this is serious to me
I've broken the locks
You could tear me apart

You're a babe with a knife
A pounding heart and a vampire for a wife
She's kissing your neck
Please get out my friend

Have you seen the spring
With open eyes, now lift yourself and see
The world on your own
Don't follow no ghost

Autumn's in the trees
You might not think but this is serious to me
To live your whole life
For the sunshine
Track Name: Tough Year (Hard Waltz)
I got hard legs from wandering
Hard troubles from North and South
Hard doubts about everything I once held dear
It's getting cold again
It's been a hard, tough year

I made a fortune in New England
Took it back to the place I was born
That beautiful state I sang songs about
She changed on me
She let me down
So I kept on southern bound
Lost my mind in a tent
Screamed into the gulf
And then I turned around

I spent miles and months recovering
From the wounds of weaker spines
Discovered two traitors on my payroll this whole time
It made me dizzy with pain
It's been so hard pulling out the blades
Two in my back, about six on my mind

I got hard scratches from those rats
Hard legs from coming back
Hard doubts from the money men
I just want my head clear
It's getting cold again
It's been a hard, tough year

I was weak and I wanted my old woman
Made it back to the county line
But when I got to my old street
Put my hand on my old car
It didn't feel right
I stared up through the branches
Saw champagne on my windowsill
The coldest wind ripped across my face
I knew she hadn't stood still
To give up and bow out hurts a man's pride
And how can you quit the love of your life?
But when I loved you darling I was never alive

I got hard scratches from that girl
Hard lessons from the world
Hard doubts from expectation
I just want my head clear
It's getting cold again
It's been a hard, tough year

I sold ambition to a sailor
I sold a life raft to a saint
Who gave it back to me straight away
I sold Bibles in Nevada
I sold whiskey in Vermont
I sold her memory to my conscience at three times the cost
And her ghost keeps dragging me on

I saw a Mustang on the tracks
Too wild for its skin
I felt fire in my fingers
I tasted blood in my gin

I got hard legs from wandering down
Hard troubles from North and South
Hard doubts about everything I once held dear
It's getting cold again
It's been a hard, tough year