We will all die. It’s inevitable. Some are able to cope with this fact much better than others. They go about their lives, purposely forgetful, or, embrace this fragility and live by the YOLO code. For others, like Edmonton’s Dylan Greenhough (aka Samuel J. Aliveanwell aka Sam The Living) the mystery surrounding death is fascinating. The passing of time is ultimately just like one great countdown until The End.
In his Mortal Man Blues, death haunts each step Greenhough’s alter-ego Sam takes. Though it does everyone, Sam is very aware of the hooded taker, going so far as to say, “I’ve been dying since the day I was born.” (“To Die A Poet”). The thunderous “Eulogy” is also disturbed by life’s finiteness with Sam ultimately fulfilling his prophecy to write his own eulogy. Despite this hyper-awareness, Sam tells us of his futile attempts to escape death through drugs and alcohol in “The Drugs Wore Off and “Paradise.” The bluesy vibe of the latter song is so full of smoke that it’s even unclear if “Paradise” will be heaven or hell, being alive or being dead.
The title track is where Sam is at his soberest, his saddest, but also his calmest. With a melody ripped from a traditional folk songbook – think “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” or “Come and Go With Me To That Land” – “Mortal Man Blues” does not provide answers about life or death but in Sam’s questions (“When I go will I suffer?”) we are left to realize that we are all haunted by the blues that torment dear Sam.
The most important message Greenhough gives us in his Mortal Man Blues almost gets lots amongst the echoing, lonesome canals of “Solitude”: “What’s the point in dying if you don’t take the time to live.” Take some time to spend with Sam The Living. You might look at life a little differently.
Top Track: “Mortal Man Blues”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)