SONG OF THE MOMENT: “Apothecary Love”


This old-timey charmer from The Low Anthem’s drop-dead gorgeous Smart Flesh, the just-released follow-up to 2009’s Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, has been making me smile for weeks. It vibes like a summery cross between The Band’s Music From Big Pink and Beck’s Mutations — all mournful, moonlit country lilt and coal mountain melody waltzing matilda across the fruited plains and purple mountain majesties of the warm, narcotic American night. Its like old time country lemonade for your ears. The singer sounds like an Appalachian Cat Stevens telling it on the mountain, the harmonica wheezes like a far-off train whistle in the night and hearing that ghostly pedal steel Low_Anthem_cartoon.jpgis, in my considered opinion, the closest you will ever get to God. Set in the olden days — when women wore bonnets, men wore britches and everything was sepia-toned — the lyric concerns two soon-to-be lovers that meet cute in an apothecary (sort of like an old-fashioned CVS). He’s just minding his own business, browsing the potions, pills and medicines, when he notices a sad-eyed lady of the lowlands. He quickly determines that she is tormented by the darkening voices in her head, the “conspiracy delusion that her boyfriend kept fed” and tells her that he’s got the cure for the shape that she’s in. Understandably she’s suspicious of his intentions, but he assures his intentions are pure and all that he wants is to be the friend she so obviously needs. He has a voice you can trust. By the second verse, they are back at his homestead and she’s already feeling better. She shoots him with whiskey and then chases him with gin, she calms and comforts him, and stills the tremble in his hands — turns out she’s got the cure for the shape that he’s in. Cue scratchy, silent film footage of mortar grinding in pestle, train going into the tunnel, etc. All’s well that ends well, you would think. But by the last verse, she’s left him, he’s “reeling with that time-release feelin'” and so he heads back down to the apothecary, hoping to find a new cure for the shape that he’s in. In a word: perfect. — JONATHAN VALANIA

[Low Anthem portrait by Johnnie Cluney]

THE LOW ANTHEM: “Apothecary Love”

RELATED: On May 17, The Low Anthem and Iron and Wine will release their Daytrotter Sessions as a limited edition split 12″ vinyl. The LP, limited to 1000 copies, is being sold exclusively through “mom and pop” record stores, with a few copies being available through the Daytrotter website and via the bands’ websites. MORE


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