Boston based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Dietrich Strause has been around the country and back, opening up for some fantastic creative energies—Lake Street Dive, the Stray Birds, Anaîs Mitchell, Sarah Jarosz and more—but with How Cruel That Hunger Binds, released on August 26th, the young musician, raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania by Lutheran ministers, could tap into his own artistic trip. Working with producer Zachariah Hickman, he created a dynamic sound that blends the winding lyricism of folk, the full sound of Americana and the sunny melodies of indie-pop.
Today, Elmore is premiering the video for “Rainy Days,” a teaser for Strause’s larger project– which he’ll debut at the Sound Society at OBERON in Cambridge, MA– that pairs the record with vintage visuals. Strause explains of the ambitious multi-media performance, “[How Cruel That Hunger Binds] will be played live, front to back, in its entirety. There will be silent videos projected behind the band throughout, including narrative interludes and postludes. The videos mostly come from the 1950s – a collection of public domain commercials, government public service productions, documentaries, and educational programs. They’ve been edited together to reflect the emotion of the music, and to interpret the stories in the songs – to match the visual content with the golden-era pop sounds found in the album. The show is simultaneously designed to juxtapose the lyrical themes of hunger, desire, love, loss, life and death, with the doe-eyed mid-century optimism found in the consumer aesthetic.”
Starting with a cheeky vignette that pretty accurately summarizes how many of us feel when it comes to technological jargon, it’s a charming, kitschy bit of retro-futurist nostalgia that shows a ‘50s housewife palling around with her Jetson’s style house robot, who has a control panel of tasks including Answer Door, Wash Dishes and Get Dinner (not cook, just “get,” one wonders?). As Strause mentions, the viewer has to figure out how to piece together the images with the short, sweet song that strums along with steady guitars, but rings of the sadness of lost love. “A penny saved for a rainy day/Now I hold them in my hand for wishing at the river’s bend/that someday it will roll me back to you/I’m broke from all the wishing that I do,” Strause sings with clear-toned, lazy melancholy. It’s easy to piece together a funny, wistful and slightly bizarre tale of friendship, projecting the singer’s tale of woe onto Roll-Oh the Robot, who dutifully completes chores for his mistress.
If you’re near the Boston area, pick up tickets for Strause’s Sound Society at OBERON show on September 15th at 8pm here. Watch the video for “Rainy Days” below.