American Authors is the musical embodiment of what happens to the brain of any young person who reads Kerouac’s On The Road before reaching the age of 21. The band’s catalog speaks to the restless wanderer in all of us, that little voice that suggests life could be better if we were anywhere else than where we are in the present moment. They also sing of the lessons learned from listening to that voice, specifically that no matter where you go you are still the person you’ve always been.
“Neighborhood,” the group’s latest single, continues this trend with a little help from NEEDTOBREATHE’s Bear Rinehart. The song focuses on the relationships that serve as strings tethering us to the places we call home. They may not be everything we wish they were, but they all add up to the sum total of our life when you remove open road’s calling. From parents that we leave just as they begin to reach a period when they may need us most, to the friends and siblings whose lives have developed in such a way that they feel stuck or settled. There’s also our lovers, the ones whose hearts we promise to protect, and the often unspoken agreement that was entered when they fell in love with someone who is forever chasing something they cannot define.
What separates “Neighborhood” from similar songs about leaving home is that it understands the questions everyone involved in these scenarios inevitably asks. Whether you’re the person who cannot stay in one place for long or someone who loves that person, you have to wonder what the cost of a life of searching is and how it shapes who a person becomes over time. If one’s home is never enough, is anything? And if seekers do find what they’re after, what will become of the relationships they’ve left behind? How will that change the lives of those waiting for them, and what will those left behind sacrifice to hold up their end of the deal that is loving someone who isn’t entirely sure how to love themselves?
American Authors simplify all this uncertainty by asking what may be the most haunting question of all: Who are you?
The answer is never easy to find, but it is one worth searching for, regardless of how long it may take to solve. Where other American Authors tracks such as “Best Day Of My Life” and “I’m Born To Run” appear to throw concern for the impact of one’s actions aside, “Neighborhood” plays like a slap in the face to every person whose every blamed wanderlust for the inability to develop roots. The band has been on the road long enough to fully appreciate how their choices have shaped the course of not only their lives but the lives of everyone who cares for them as well.
The only solace American Authors find in understanding the implications of their decisions on those around them is the knowledge they are loved. “I can hear it in your voice that you do know it’s not a choice for me to stay,” which is a line from the bridge, perfectly encapsulates this idea. They live for the moments when they’re home once more, as do their families and friends, but everyone involved knows such occasions are temporary. There will always be another tour. There will still be another journey to take. All they, or any other person who responds to the call of the open road, can hope is that home is still there when they return.
American Authors will release their third album, Seasons, in February 2019. You can preorder the album on the band’s official website.