As a backer of the crowdfunding campaign for Chelsea McBride’s Socialist Night School‘s Aftermath, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to this album since August. I wanted to shout from the rooftops about how wonderful this album is for months, but I’m trilled Aftermath is available and everyone can finally hear this.

Aftermath is a welcoming, warm big band record that feels like a brave shelter against a world careening through suffering. It captures more of the stunning magic the band brings to live performances than previous recordings and carries with it a defiant undertone of social justice. It’s just so good and a must-hear album.

Go and experience them live too, because the experience of Chelsea McBride’s Socialist Night School is astounding.

While our previous album, The Twilight Fall, is not mandatory listening to understand the concept of this recording, it might help you gain an understanding of where we come from to start at what really is the beginning of the story. Before, we took you through the life cycle of you, and with Aftermath, we visit what happens after the end; in the orange skies and purple clouds of the temperate dreamworld a part of you inhabits.

I had the privilege of spending a few weeks at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and it is there that the majority of this recording crystallized. “Revolution Blues” had already been composed, inspired by the 2016 US presidential election, and this is where we begin: in a world so divided, we can’t even begin to see each others’ sides. A world where there is no middle ground. Aftermath is the story of conflict in all its forms: macro and micro, internal and interpersonal. It’s an exploration of the things that we do to each other out of hurt, and the consequences of those actions.

Being an artist is so close, sometimes, to ripping your heart out of your chest and offering to the world. With every new song, every new listener, every new improvisation, you ask: can you hold this in your heart? Can you love it? Can you accept what I have to offer? Is this good enough?

The works found on this album were meant to be dark, and scary. Conflict is never an easy thing to explore. But I can’t look at all the hurt that inspired this recording without remembering that even in the worst moments…somehow there is hope. People are inherently good. We may gravitate to the negative at times, but we could use a little more practice of love and gratitude. To remember that if we don’t teach, no one learns, and if we don’t open, no one loves.

Consider this, then, an invitation; to find silver linings in clouds, warmth in grey days, safe harbour in dark times. And a call to action, to be true to your word: to own your actions, and your commitment to a better place. No one person has all the answers, all things right, all things good. But you are much stronger when you’re not alone.

This album is best heard under a purple sky with orange clouds, in a cabin on stilts overlooking a body of water, accented by the sound of rain on a rooftop or static on the radio and television.

Aftermath by Chelsea McBride’s Socialist Night School

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