“And I’m thinking how all things change. How the branches grow tall, but our initials remain the same”
I love a good break-up album. The Golden Age & The Silver Girl by singer-songwriter Tyler Lyle is a collection of feelings and impressions he documented, while in the throes of a relationship turned sour, delivering a poignant insight the complex nature of love and the ultimate loss of it.
Lyle said that this album is about one girl in particular, who apparently gave him a lot of creative material to work with: “It’s less of a “let’s put this out there because people will like it” album, and more of a “I feel so intensely that I don’t know what else to do but bleed onto a word processor or napkin or tape machine” album.” After a brutal break-up, some might prefer not to think about it too much – or try, however fruitlessly – to forget about it altogether. Tyler Lyle, on the other hand, didn’t shy away from it: he looked at it straight in the eye and dissected every little aspect of it. He sings in the first person, taking full responsibility for his words, unapologetically admitting that he is only presenting his side of the story – half-truths included – and even going as far as admitting that he is just plain full of shit.
Because of this, the album’s greatest strength is its honesty and rawness; it feels unbelievably personal and deeply relatable. Every song reads like a love letter – at times hopeful, at others pleading to be given a second chance, begging not to let go; and finally, it reads as the final note someone might leave on the kitchen table, bags all packed, right before crossing the front door, never to come back again.
Musically, the album is simple folk with a little country twang, accompanied by a beautiful instrumentation of soft flutes, banjo, guitars and horns. However, the simplicity of the arrangements allow for the lyrics to stand out, as they should. My favorite of the bunch might be “The Golden Age and The Silver Girl”, because of the rocking country vibe, and the quirky lyrics: “I’ll arrive one day – well dressed and half-awake; with improved diction, quoting European fiction. I’ll arrive one day to a silence in the world. I’ll miss the golden age and the silver girl.”
The rest of the tracks offer a clearer picture of what might have gone wrong in the relationship: “I’ll Sing You A Song” speaks of not meeting expectations: “I am the son of a mobile salesman, I am the over-thinking brother, wondering if you’ll come home again. I am the lover, I’m the fighter. I’m your cigarette lighter. One day for someone that will be enough.” We see hints of jealousy and the memory of an ex hanging around them like a dark cloud in the song “Anyhow”: “I’m not him and this ain’t then. Open up and let me in (…) Your careful ways, even your angry face, it’s still looking pretty good to me.” And finally, the hopelessness that inevitably follows: “Sorrow, sorrow. We made our plans, we begged and borrowed, turned to nothing in the end.”
But lyrically, “When I Say I Love You” just melts my heart. When heartbreak and anger finally subside, you gain clarity of vision: the need to let go and move on is still there, but you remember the good times and ultimately, you can be nothing but thankful for them: “When I say that I love you, I guess what I mean is that I love you like a home I have to leave. And I’m thinking how nothing can stay. How the sun stains the curtains, and the paint flakes away. But it’ll always be home, ‘till the memory fades. I love you, thanks for the golden age.” There are many good “fuck you” songs, but there aren’t nearly enough songs like this.
While Tyler Lyle might have written the album about one girl in particular, it could be about anyone; I’m sure it will resonate with almost everyone who has been in a relationship that didn’t work out. So thank God for break-ups, thank God for musicians and the women who date them. Without them, we wouldn’t have albums this good.
Buy The Golden Age & The Silver Girl for the very reasonable price of $6. I promise, it is worth every penny.