In the words of our lord and savior, Olivia Rodrigo, “God, it’s brutal out here!” In one of the, I’m sure, many ways that he relates to Rodrigo, Guy Keltner is also feeling the heat. His forthcoming Acid Tongue record, Arboretum, delves into the various brutalities of living, not just as a human but as one with some influentiality, where the pressure is high and trust hard to find. But his greatest agony, like Rodrigo, is that of the heart and the fucked-up ex who broke it.
In order to accurately portray this tale of torment, Keltner and his bandmate Ian Cunningham recruited local luminary and Bearaxe frontwoman Shaina Shepherd for the Arboretum track “Suffering For You.” Officially out tomorrow, November 5th, but shared a day early via KEXP, the song displays the range of new sounds Acid Tongue is unveiling on the new record.
Usually known for rolling out glam rock scorchers, “Suffering For You,” sees the band pull back on the theatrics to let the lyrics shine. The purposely strummed guitar keeps the energy high while hints of twinkling piano shimmer around Keltner’s gravelly admissions of continuing to come back to a person who treats them like absolute garbage.
About halfway through, Shepherd joins him in support. Her husky voice trembles and warbles with the emotion of someone who’s also tried to please someone who will never accept them as enough. Then, by the last refrain of the chorus, more voices come in, both in vocal and instrument form, crying out like a call to arms as if to say, “We see you, we’ve been there too. You don’t have to suffer anymore. You can choose something else.”
Keltner and Shepherd had this to say about the song:
Listen to “Suffering For You” below. Arboretum follows last year’s Bullies LP and drops November 12th via Freakout Records, which also happens to be the weekend of 2021’s Freakout Festival. Both Acid Tongue and Shaina Shepherd will be playing that night on the Salmon Bay High stage. Olivia Rodrigo has yet to announce tour dates, unfortunately.
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One of Seattle's brightest singer/songwriters pens an anxious tune about our current cultural moment. Martin Douglas explores.