"Another Bitter Microcosm" - Zane Vickery's 'Breezewood'

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It might seem strange to cover an album that’s already several years old – yet not old enough to warrant any significant anniversary milestone. It might seem even stranger to do so the same week the artist in question is releasing a new song. But I’ve inevitably found myself enraptured in Zane Vickery’s debut album, perhaps even more deeply than when I first discovered it. Sure, songs like “Weighted” and “Scales” stood out to me from the start. But time progresses, we grow older, and the chasm between who we are and were seems to ever widen. And in some ways it’s my wrestling with these very sentiments that draws me deeper into these songs.

It’s been a pretty challenging couple years. It’s been major decision followed by major decision by recouping losses and trying to make sense of it all. Somewhere, I know God is doing something. Most days, I feel the tension of everything – not living my Plan A life and not having a Plan B, the constant struggle to be seen and heard, trying to not crush myself under my own expectations, watching everyone hit new milestones and wondering if there’s even a place for me. This, of course, also ties into another of Vickery’s songs, “Is There Room Enough for Me?”

But even before his more ambitious projects, Vickery’s songs are laced with fly-trap one-liners. They’re the sort of sugary (more in terms of desire rather taste or tone) sentiments that pull me in and keep me stuck. I can’t help but immediately call to mind the title track this time of year: “Another day in autumn, autumn / another bitter microcosm,” he opens. And over the course of the song, he recounts a number of phrases just as powerful: “And then I wonder if you like me / I still wonder if you can” and “Wishing memory would stay away from me.” Then, there’s repetition of a single word: Remember. Holding onto things is painful, and we can be prone to try push the thoughts away or romanticize them. To see them as they truly were and reconcile them with the way things are is frankly a difficult process.

“7X70” assumes the posture of Edmund from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” and it’s honestly chilling. “It’s been so long since we’ve spoken,” Vickery notes. Time strains relationships and distorts them. There are moments where nothing feels more defeating than seeing someone I met years ago and realizing I’m not quite how I’d like to be. I’ve failed my expectations for my end of the friendship. The song masterfully also questions, “Why does everything this side of Eden / feel more like a funeral than freedom?” It’s a line laced with so much struggle and desperation.

I could go on and on, song by song, but for the sake of time, just know that this album is incredibly fitting for a literal autumn, as well as seasons that feel like decay. Winter is on the way – this is a reversal of Narnia, where perhaps Aslan has disappeared and a new witch is rising up somewhere in the distance. Or maybe it’s all in our heads. Whether it’s the simple cry of, “I need to be alright” on Exodus or the cyclical nature of insurmountable things laid out in “Coronary”, Vickery winds tales of Lewis’ masterpieces into tales of his (and perhaps our) experiences. And while I can’t say the album has given me close or resolution, it’s been a good companion. Even if we can’t see the full story, we know in Christ it will close the same way the record does: with a reminder that it was all worth it.

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