“Matter-of-fact” may, in fact, be my favorite score indication. “Clangorous” being a close second.

(Only Air (2011-2013))

(“Permanently” from at least a moment (2009))

Similar markings work, too:

(“inevitable” from echoes (2008))

(“Kenneth’s Death” from echoes (2008))

It may be my reserved, Midwestern upbringing. Or it may be that I prefer to let the text and music carry themselves, without the singer “getting in the way”. I also tend not to choose texts that imply histrionics. Subtle emotion seems to be my thing, musically. Understatement.

There’s nothing particularly earth shattering about this idea. It’s something I’ve known about myself and my music for a long time, but thinking about Only Air brings up the idea again for me.

I almost felt you
shudder this morning
as I dreamed of death

I can’t imagine this line – or anything from the poem, save four of the last lines – being recited or sung in any manner other than completely straight-forward. There’s obvious, deep, gut-wrenching emotion behind the poem, but it carries itself so simply, so beautifully that any to attempt to “interpret” it or put any additional “feeling” into it would cripple the words.

Similarly, “Kenneth’s Death” from echoes can’t be anything other than unsentimental. It is, of course, an incredibly sentimental song, but if I ever heard a singer put anything more than a sort of sad humor behind the words “He’s dead,” I might barf. (Or at least roll my eyes so hard that I get a peek at my brain.)

Sometimes the most complex of emotions can only be expressed through utter simplicity.