The Strangest Light

by The Ashtray Hearts

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1.
02:20
we'll stay until it sings as we keep from being found it's just you and me and what comes along safe on low ground the weeks that we stayed in there were books and weight and wine and long nights with nothing left but sleep and a worried mind if they break us down and we end up on that hill call me back, back to my country when the waiting hour is here and you believe we'll call it all just a dream if they break us down and we end up on that hill call me back, back to my country
2.
02:18
when i woke up you had called they had torn up the streets and you were late the war was on our reservations lost there was nothing to keep you from me on a Michigan road, we got caught there was no way that we could get to town so the cards were drawn the banks they piled on for one night you promised to believe when i woke up we were here we had come all this way to pass the time the war was on and all our friends had gone but we wouldn't let it end between the truth and better days we wouldn't let it end
3.
when the actors called us in there was nothing left to sign now that he's not coming home ancient cables and the fear of what we'll find though we try and let it go you miss him he won't hear your baby cry years without a sound and then you'll find that the strangest light is gone but you'll know what it was i tried so hard to make it right but in the end it was just a wasted flight sister dear we've grown apart i don't know why, it must have been our easy start
4.
02:52
shine a light so I can make out your direction I don't want to scream, "where are you now?" if it gets burned, who will take our things will we litter all the boxes along unpronounceable names sold by the old ways, we'll be on our own making plans for when we get home these are just excuses now good words among the mines divided by degrees in the end it turns so who will take us in one by one all the houses down the page name by name it doesn't matter how it ends or when it began it's all right here so call off the guns in these violent days won't you, my dear
5.
03:04
so we took a different route of broken hearts and slow days I miss the kids but I'm here with a girl who won't disappear in the dying light the endless smoke the windless night keeps it still can't say forever we'll be here just until the summer's gone and I know that nothing will have changed at home.
6.
01:55
let's not do this again cancel all the things we don't need sell the rest and call in favors and find that time to be you and me and it we don't have enough there's no month on a train so write it up and say goodbye pull that pension plan and sign let's not do this again cancel all the things we don't need sell the rest and call in favors and find that time to be you and me
7.
03:07
I lost my eyes, sister/mountain and I don't dream about the past fold up the tables, close the room this whole time it wasn't ours there's no proof that you were here with the lives you left behind I saw your car in Minneapolis sitting on an empty street your old books still in the back seat where they were left on your last day there's the the proof that you were here with the lives you left behind so I'll be waiting here at home if this is home then turn the offer down and we'll turn the line I lost my eyes and found a girl you threw names into a jar and took the long way home.
8.
02:08
crooked lines on your little hands someone called to let you out with your story now clear to open up our binds heavy sails and a hollow heart suffer through another drought we'll wait until the first to call this one good a lucky turn might change my mind these few words will divide your heart but Sundays will be ours
9.
03:00
my brother close you on my arm under the roof we made in the summer we drank slow my mother was alive now we dance while breaking down when we left the country that you've never forgotten I quit waiting for a long look my life has you in it now there's room at the bar we're all of age winter's come and nothing's changed we still had hope when your mother was alive now we dance while breaking down when we left the country that you've never forgotten I quit waiting for a long look my life has you in it now
10.
04:06
you're so tired, you can't wait your room clean, bags are tied and torn papers signed for a cheap way out so stand in line, I'll raise my hand your last request came through somehow I'm so tired, I can't wait my head clear, my year spoiled I can't keep up with all this coming clean so stand in line and take my hand your last request came through somehow what did I say that I can't say to you now?
11.
03:36
clear out the embers and stay light walk slow and keep your head the rest and the road a chance once lost for you to make it home you burned out the yard to start clean the boy with the shaky hand new rooms on the square a sudden goodbye leaving me and the moving van a song for the man on the hill turned down your voice is so clear and if the angels learn where you lie now let them take you and hold you near
12.
we found her by the old house back when we still had luck the season soured bad debt seemed to follow us down and what we had wasn't much so I'd like to show you the grave of that sweet young girl I'd like to look down on that old stone next to the chapel and the remains of what gathered us there what we have isn't much when the caller calls take me to white church hill I'll find her there when you carry me to white church hill it wasn't how they told you there was no second chance I forced my way out but there wasn't anywhere to go this I will tell you there isn't a list and it might not matter what we've done when the last one is called take me to white church hill I'll find her there when you carry me to white church hill

about

How can a band stay together when its members no longer live on the same continent? That question faced the Ashtray Hearts as they spent eight years assembling what would become The Strangest Light, the band’s third album. In the end, distance helped shape the narrative for their latest collection of songs about lives left behind and lessons learned too late.

In 2008, lead singer and songwriter Dan Richmond left Minneapolis to follow his wife to the Balkans. Other members took on new jobs, new relationships, and parenthood. Yet the band found ways to keep working—members would send song sketches back and forth via email, assembling arrangements piece by piece. This process has made The Strangest Light the Ashtray Hearts’ most collaborative record to date. In addition to songs by Dan Richmond, the album includes, for the first time, songs by guitarist Steve Yernberg (“The Strangest Light”) and multi-instrumentalist and harmony singer Aaron Schmidt (“White Church Hill”) as well as key arrangement contributions from bassist Ryan Scheife and percussionist John Jerry. When Richmond landed back in Minneapolis on breaks and during an extended stopover prior to a move to Oregon, the band would pick up where it left off, working out the new material. Eventually, the songs took final shape in the studio in early 2012. The result has become what may be the Ashtray Hearts’ most complete and compelling record: an album inspired by travel, separation, and change, composed of twelve songs about love, loss, and last chances.

On The Strangest Light, the Ashtray Hearts continue to refine the pairing of lush textures and straightforward delivery explored on their first two albums. The record references folk, Americana, and country while embracing the singer-songwriter aesthetic of early 1970s Asylum Records. Yet it retains the band’s signature sound—close harmonies, layered guitars, and eclectic instrumentation. Recorded at the Terrarium in Minneapolis, The Strangest Light captures the warmth of the Ashtray Hearts’ sound, infusing the songs with both hope and heartbreak.

Band members remain scattered in different cities, with Richmond now living in Salt Lake City. Yet this seems fitting. The Ashtray Hearts make music designed for long road trips home, with songs whose slow pulse echoes the rhythm of the highway and lyrics that capture lives moving in different directions. The Strangest Light is both the end of long trip and the signal of a new start.

credits

released January 22, 2013

Recorded at the Terrarium in Minneapolis.

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The Ashtray Hearts Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Ashtray Hearts are a five-piece band from Minneapolis whose music references folk, Americana, and country while embracing the singer-songwriter aesthetic of early 1970s Asylum Records. The Ashtray Hearts' new record, The Strangest Light (2013), features the band’s signature sound—tight harmonies, layered guitars, and eclectic instrumentation. ... more

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