What does “Old Blues” mean to you? For Bad History Month’s Sean Sprecher, “Old Blues” is many things. The title of the Boston based musician’s sophomore album (since the dissolution of duo Fat History Month) refers to “macro and micro scale Bad History, childhood trauma dragged into adulthood, the self-doubts and anxieties of aging, problems people have been fighting wars over since the ancients,” and most naturally, “the tradition of channeling hard times into good music.”
The record, his first in three years following the much praised Dead and Loving It, is an extremely personal yet relatable album, an assertion of the hope that there are parts of ourselves and each other that we can push towards being better than our common weaknesses would have us believe. The album is due out April 24th via Exploding In Sound Records. Speaking about the album’s themes, Sprecher writes:
“Though I've become fairly cynical about The Human Spirit, I still do write songs that strive for hope more than anything. All my songs are songs of hope. There's always a reach towards a punchline or a way forward at the end, because all laments and complaints should be leavened with humor and optimism. Acknowledging and laughing at our personal and collective failings is a path towards self-awareness and productive engagement with ourselves and the world. It's also a path away from the numb escape of endless internet addiction, the anesthetic mental armor of knee-jerk political thought, and the gossipy inanities and complaints-for-their-own-sake that pass for Social Life much of the time.
This is Aspirational Music in that I don't currently have the strength to live up to my own values. But I see that there is a more enjoyable approach to experiencing life and I try to move towards it and advocate for it. These songs present political ideas filtered through a personal lens. They're written in the first-person with specific details, but under the presumption of fairly universal relatability.
There is a fair amount of hopefully obvious satire in these songs. Sometimes I say the opposite of what I mean in order to humorously point out the absurdity in situations I'm critiquing. This subtlety has been somewhat obscured in our era of mass offense, but I hope you will encounter these songs with the assumption that they are never on the side of harm or hostility.”
An influential fixture on the east coast DIY scene and beyond, Bad History Month (and Fat History Month before it) have been creating profound and sincere music that deals with unhappiness and its absurdity in equal measure since 2007. Old Blues was recorded by Mark Fede, Sean Sprecher and Greg Hartunian. The songs were performed by Sprecher (words, guitars, bass, drums, keys), Fede, Hartunian, Colby Nathan, and Phil Hartunian, with guidance from Dan Angel. Recorded mostly at Mark Fede's in the Berwick Building, Roxbury MA between December 2017 and June 2019, except “Want Not” and some overdubs tracked at Greg Hatunian's in Los Angeles, January 2018.
Sprecher spoke about the recording process, adding:
“Recording these songs was a pretty magical experience. Aside from the live voice, guitar, and drums, almost all of the overdubs are improvised and digitally edited after the fact. This approach continually refreshed my faith in Luck and the seemingly fated, unexpected-yet-inevitable feeling of order that finds its way into chaos when you give Risk a chance and see what happens.
I enjoyed many happy hours messing around in the studio and I think these good times can be felt in the playfulness of the music. This open, playful, hopeful approach feels like a metaphor for how I'd like to live, and is also part of the message embedded in this album.”
Old Blues is a welcome return from one of our generations brightest songwriters.