Despite being quite the video game aficionado, I don’t often have significant appreciation for music outside of the video game setting. Don’t get me wrong, I have significant appreciation for many video game soundtracks, but most of the time, instrumental music doesn’t affect me the same way lyrical music does. I guess that’s why “Setting Sail, Coming Home” – the ending theme to Bastion – stands out to me more. Set in a minor key with a heavy beat and gritty acoustic guitar, it is truly a perfect song for the finale of the game, where tough decisions are made and there really is no perfect way to go. Even outside of the game, though, the duet between a male and female singer, with standout harmonies and sometimes different lyrics sung over another, it’s an interesting composition. It’s not rare that I find video game music that I love, but it is rare that I find a song that I love so much, and that could easily have a place outside of the video game world. The fact that “Setting Sail, Coming Home” fits into both categories is a testament to its excellence.
This one is back in my top five after a few weeks being off, and my love for the song has only strengthened. I have, however, come to view it as being more of a sad song than the happy one it seemed to me initially. Something about the simplicity of the finger-picked guitars and Chris Martin’s vocals and the falsetto he uses really creates an atmosphere of childhood happiness, but by the end, when Martin starts singing about the unimportance of blue skies without the person with whom memories were talked about earlier in the song, the nostalgia and grief really comes through to round off the song perfectly.
One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists, “Moonlight” is a gorgeous, calming, and hopeful tune. With a soft start of guitars, the song picks up with a slow, soft beat and vocalizing stays in the background throughout the song. I love the breaks in vocals between verses, and the fact that there isn’t much of a true “chorus,” creating an interesting structure to the song. It also has a wonderful manner of slowly picking up in volume as it progresses, softening to its starting sound before finally exploding into one final piece. It’s a song that demands to be listened to at night, under moonlight; I can say from experience that listening to it in a car ride on the highway under moonlight is one of the best ways to listen to it. It’s just such a romantic song, and doesn’t beg or plead or even hope, but just demands what it wants; the lyrics all say “We’re going to” or “I’m going to”; it doesn’t wait or ask for answers, it just demands happiness, and it’s great for calming down or for just happy moods.
Though I can’t claim to have listened to much of Survivor, I’ve recently come upon Survivor singer Jimi Jamison’s most recent solo album and found that I rather enjoy it. “Not Tonight” is a mid-tempo rock anthem off of that album that rejects sad feelings and accepts that, though a person might be missed eventually, it isn’t going to happen now. It’s just a really catchy song that’s wonderful for making a good mood better.
Another of my absolute favorites by Thriving Ivory, “Our December” comes along in the same category to me as “Strawberry Swing” in the “sad and nostalgic, despite its cheery tune” category. Kicking off with church organs, the melodic, piano rock song is a recollection of a December lit up with lights and filled with hope for the future, as well as being full of snowy imagery. Clayton Stroope’s voice plays out beautifully as usual, particularly with poignant, background “Yeah”s in the final chorus. I’ve always seen it as a sad recollection after the end of joyous times, making it all the more sad. Even if the soaring melodies alone didn’t sell me on the song, the emotion and nostalgia it can stir up within me is absolutely breathtaking.