August is always a tricky month for me.
The days get just a touch shorter. Back to school supplies surge like a wave and break on the shores of store shelves. Billboards for my hometown’s fireworks, which usher in September with a literal bang, begin popping up. My birthday rolls around, just as it does every year so long as the Earth keeps spinning.
August is a tricky month, because, regardless of the previous year, these annual landmarks only ever remind me that: I’m not where I want to be in my life.
And I know it isn’t fair to set my timeline against the clocks others keep; it isn’t fair to ask these celebrations to suddenly become more than they are meant to be, and convert birthday candles into existential crises. I know that it isn’t fair to place so much pressure on a month — on myself — but, it happens.
This sticky self-doubt isn’t the only thing that hitches a ride on the humidity, however. Because, whether through cosmic intervention, or just general luck — I’m not going to try and unravel the mysteries of the universe — a new Watsky track tends to be there when I need it most.
In 2016, I found relief in “Talking to Myself” from the LP, “x Infinity.” This year, the welcome relief from my summertime malaise is dressed in Watsky’s “Welcome to the Family.”
After over a decade of crafting music, the poet-author-and-rapper’s latest single is a natural progression of the sound he has been cultivating since “Cardboard Castles.” A marriage between a piano arpeggio — tinkling and bright — honest lyricism and a casual current of fuzzy hip-hop beats, “Welcome to the Family” is a meditative deep breath, not a desperate inhale.
Taking its time in unfolding all that it’s packed within nearly four minutes, “Welcome to the Family” is a testament to perfect pacing.
Weaving through verses — at times, gently perched between singing and rapping; while others are slick with his signature, fast-paced delivery — Watsky never overplays his hand. And it’s that push and pull — that knowing when to race through syllable-laden lines, and knowing when to let a verse stretch its legs — that bolsters and amplifies the San Francisco-native’s lyrics.
“Those fires in your attic that rage without permission / Some days invade your living room or break out in the kitchen / They breeze right through the building / They just show up as they please / And then retreat like grown up children / Well how’d you like to split this L and / Tell me what you’ve witnessed / If the price of life is hell / Well no one ever had to sell me on how nice a fire smells.”
There is catharsis here. There is community.
With a warm-and-fuzzy-feeling current of percussion and piano, “Welcome to the Family” is a sonic antithesis to songs heavy in machismo or overt despair. Brimming with everything that is quintessential Watsky — smart musicality paired with a deep understanding of how well words work, and which ones work well together — the song, as the title suggests, is an invitation:
“I’ll whisper every secret to you when this mic is gone / And I know you’ll listen / And I know it’s different / But it gives me peace our missing pieces could be siblings / The rough nights, ain’t leaving, so why the hell should we?”
So, if this month — or day or season or year — has been tricky for you, too, you’re not alone. Welcome to the family.
Ashley Cline is an avid introvert and full-time carbon based life form currently living in south Jersey. Since graduating from Rowan University with her Bachelor's in Journalism, she can usually be found singing show tunes to her dog, drinking too much iced coffee and wearing beanies. Her personal best at all-you-can-eat sushi is five rolls in eleven minutes. You can find her yelling about Carly Rae Jepsen on Twitter and posting photos of her dog on Instagram.