I wrote something last summer that traveled to some far corners of the internet and bonded me with some fellow human beings who’d had their lives shattered into pieces by a particularly brutal parting of ways with a very significant other. It was through sharing that horrific place I was in that a couple of really amazing things came to me, including this album. Thankfully, things are a lot better these days. I’m healthy and happy more often than not, which is something that I never thought I’d say again during the weeks and months where I existed in that vacuum of despair. It feels a little strange to be writing about my divorce yet again so much later, but Hollow played such a significant part during the darker times of my life that I couldn’t let its release pass by without note.
One of the people my words reached was Chris Stowe. We’d become acquainted mostly through me blogging about a song of his (which also appears on Hollow) back at the beginning of 2012 called, “Sometimes They Give Us Beer For Free.” This song ran in and out of 2012; it sound tracked road trips and long walks. I shared it with friends and know that it ingrained itself in a couple other hearts. A small light appeared in my life with this album in my inbox; it came with a note:
“… I just want you to have it and hope that it’ll bring you some joy. As a disclaimer, it’s still sad, like all my songs, but in a positive way if that makes any sense?”
It was incredibly touching, that someone who I didn’t know well and was more of a fan of, really, cared enough about my stupid life and my broken heart to reach out. I listened to Hollow ad nauseum last year, both because it’s a great soundtrack to getting your heart broken and to remember that someone cared about me enough for me to have this album.
There was a particular song I latched on to and it became a part of my infamous breakup playlist- the first song on the album, “Blood Drinkers.” It hits so close to home that I don’t think that I will ever be able to listen to it without crying. The courage that went into writing a song so honestly was both gut-wrenching and inspiring. It captured the ghost of the ex-lover who still wanders through your life- holding you at night, brushing their hand against yours, or the feel of their hair against your cheek.
“Longer Than It Should Have” specifically takes me through the pain of leaving a long-term relationship, bringing up the details that no one talks about or wants to remember: the shared bank accounts, the holidays; all of the fine and delicate points of making a life together permanent. And of course, how far and fast you have to run away when it ends and that person has seeped into every bit of your day to day existence.
Through the regrets and what-ifs of “Rain” and the self-deprecation of “Oh, Lonesome,” Chris Stowe became my compatriot in misery. There’s definitely the clichéd sense that you know a songwriter through listening to their work, but the way this one came to me, it truly felt like companionship. In the closing track, “I Only Miss Her When I’m Drinking,” there’s the slightest tinge of resolve: of nightmares fading to dreams, of knowing that I’ll be ok. Someday.
Now, that Hollow is seeing a release after all this time, I feel like I know this album like the back of my hand. It’s been a soundtrack and a friend to the last year of my life. We’ve had more than a few drinks together and some good long cries. I’m so glad to be able to share it with the rest of the world now, because as Chris Stowe knows, we all need a companion in despair from time to time.
[You can stream ‘Hollow’ in its entirety here as well as purchase digitally for only $5. If you’re a fan of physical media, vinyl is available here.]