Traveling Songs by SJ Tucker is one of my favorite musical compilations to come out of 2016, second only to David Bowie’s last album.
An album is a guided presentation of a story. Even if the listener has no knowledge of the destination, the map has a line and the road follows the bard’s voice. We, the ones living outside the storyteller’s head, can wander down the path and explore the story.
Traveling Songs lets you jump the border and dive into the uncharted, wild terrain of SJ’s imagination. Traveling Songs gives us the opportunity to throw the map away and listen to a pure, undiluted year’s worth of SJ’s musical creations.
What can I say about Traveling Songs? 1st: IT’S AWESOME
the cause: to fund an amazingly awesome
singer/songwriter’s art and her new touring vehicle
are all awesome.
2nd: why is it awesome?
Here’s some backstory for you:
I first met SJ at a concert in Memphis, maybe 2009, maybe 2008. The city and I had both changed drastically since my last visit there in 2006 and I spent the whole day terrified of the unfamiliar streets and indulging myself with bad company.
Sanctuary is the feeling you get when you step into a venue where SJ is set to play. When the place permeates your entire existence, even if it’s only for an hour or two, and that place is exactly where you need to be to make everything right with your life. The excellent musical quality and artistry of SJ’s performances combined with the gesture of storytelling, and the stories themselves, give listeners exactly what they need to re-discover their inner strength and overcome all obstacles. That night I clapped so hard I bent my silver rings out of shape and even though my life was not ideal, SJ inspired me to keep going and exist as my best self in the face of adversity.
from SJ’s album Solace and Sorrow, “Sorrow’s Song”
“Tell me a tale so beautiful that the stars will strain to hear
The song you fear to end is just beginning
so sing me a city of wishes and fire
sing me a traveling song
I will give you words of wonder
and a feather cloak to keep you warm!”
When SJ made this post about her new project, a collection of songs that she wrote between February 2015 and 2016 for a Song-a-Week Challenge (this includes songs in a wide variety of musical genres and subjects) 2 of the songs from the Song-a-Week Challenge are available for listening on SJ’s Soundcloud. and asked for donations for either an 11 song collection, a 22 song collection, or the whole package of 52 songs, one for each week, you can bet I hitched my star to that wagon. The power of music and the power that storytellers like SJ possess turn the ordinary drudgery of our day to day lives into magic and wonder. Traveling Songs is a comprehensive and fantastic representation of SJ’s musical and creative talent. In her own words, the songs are “all works in progress. Some of them are iPhone recordings that I cleaned up in my mixing software just a little bit. But I’m proud to be able to share them with you.”
One of the amazing things about SJ is that not only does she make great art, she also travels around the world playing music for her friends and sustains herself with her art. SJ dares to live her dreams and she’s thriving because she has the strength and courage to, in all honesty, do what needs to be done and tell the stories.
I don’t know about you but I would love to quit my day job and write/perform poetry all day but I have over $100,000 in student loans. As much as I would love to live my dream of existing as a hermit on top of a mountain, or driving all over the country in an RV and just enough money to get by, I can’t. My past life choices won’t let me.
BUT here’s the thing: not only does SJ heal all the broken things with her songs and give a voice to the voiceless, SJ doesn’t just embody the fairy tale life many of us artists want/yearn to live, she gives people like me the courage/motivation/support to strive for my dream anyway, no matter what obstacles I put there in my past, no matter how many people (sometimes including myself) say that I can’t do whatever it is that I want to do. When I listen to Traveling Songs I remember the part of myself that won’t let anyone tell her no, the part of myself that won’t put up with boundaries or labels and isn’t afraid to exist as herself and live in the spirit of the creative.
SJ’s Traveling Songs are the promised words of wonder and the warmth that the road gives to all hopeful travelers.
Thank you SJ!