Local grunge folk ensemble The Camellias released Words are Fragile Vessels this week, the group’s fourth album with a whopping 25 tracks — now all available on Bandcamp.
Guitarist (and former CP reporter) Paul Bowers has been writing songs for a little over a decade, and some of the tracks on Fragile Vessels have been written as far back as 2009.
“I said, ‘Life is short’ — so I wanted to go ahead and do something with them,” Bowers said about the songs he has been amassing as time has passed.
Heard on the new compilation are Jesse Hildreth on mandolin and trombone, bassist Gardner Beson and vocalists Haley Dreis, Anna Catharine Brooks and John Orgel.
“Some of these are recorded on a hand held recorder, some of them are recorded straight into my laptop mic because that’s what I had in front of me. Some of them are off my old Olympus interview recorder that I used to record interviews throughout my newspaper years. These songs range from basically voice memos to songs that I tracked with a proper microphone and laid out in Audacity. It’s a real range of quality from pretty lo-fi to mid-fi.”
As he went back to listen to the songs off the new record, he realized he was hearing different phases of his own life.
“There wasn’t any thesis underlying it — life isn’t a master’s thesis. It felt like listening to an old version of me, which was strange.”
On the new tune “Grubby Claw,” he sings: “A part of me still loves to watch things burn, to hear about a family torn apart. And though I say ‘I’ll make good with my art,’ I’m told a gossipmonger’s wage I’ll earn.”
It’s one of the oldest tracks, dating back to 2010. At the time he wrote it he was working the crime beat at The Post and Courier, and he got to thinking about the significance of his role. Was he dressing up the police narrative or telling a fuller story?
“I felt some pangs of guilt telling sordid, bloody stories, and so I was trying to grapple with that.”