by Walter Price
You could call this review if you’ve followed along the past few weeks, the liv. trifecta. liv., of course, which led me to Will Payne Harrison and ultimately to the tell-it-like-it-is singer-songwriter Van Plating and her phenomenal The Way Down LP (2021). An album I’d played ad nauseam on Spotify and had already assumed was a pandemic-era crafted album full of truths and memories, then delighted when I discovered it really was akin to diary entries or vignettes from this songwriter’s life journey. And one of this set’s most powerful moments is called “Dirty Frame”.
Sung in a raw folk delivery and backed by a strong ‘swampy’ rock n roll heartbeat, Van Plating sings about the dichotomy of youthful dreams and real-life adult realities. Made even more personal as the storyteller walks and talks with her daughter and discovers a full-circle bonding moment that’s now forever documented in song. It’s beautiful and weighty and for me, relatable— as I just had a very similar conversation/moment with my own teenage daughter.
In an honest and detailed Bandcamp post, Van Plating shares the track’s life-affirming backstory, “The song begins with me talking about myself as a little girl growing up with big dreams and how they gradually dimmed themselves to stay within the realm of what I had been told was possible for me.
“And then the chorus dives into the healing that can happen if we wake up as we grow up–life gets harder but you get stronger, and then that last lyrical portion is taken from an afternoon I was walking with my daughter on the hot sand one summer afternoon here in Florida. It was one of those heart-to-heart kind of moments. She was turning eleven. We talked about things we couldn’t have talked about a year before. She was so open about some things that were scary for her. I was so proud of her honesty and vulnerability. And we danced along the shore together. I wasn’t feeling well that day and she was holding my hand. I hope she always will. And I hope she never loses herself like her mother did.
“For years I’ve dreamed of writing a song that was empowering, but until this moment I never have felt it flow out of me. A lot has changed in order for that to happen and I don’t ever want to go back to fitting someone else’s idea of what my life should look like. Life has hit hard, we’ve all survived so much. We’re stronger than we think. Don’t look around at what other people are doing. Instead, keep looking up.”
As you let that joy-filled tear find its path down your cheek, you can listen to “Dirty Frame”, here at the GTC.
VAN PLATING Dirty Frame
Artist photo by Cowtownchad // Quote via Bandcamp
Written/composed by Rachel Van Plating & Bryan Elijah Smith
I wonder what would have happened
If I’d learned how to fly back then
A cosmic flame In a dirty frame
A symphony in teenage skin…