Chris Bathgate’s output might be called methodical by some, though his die-hard fans may be more apt to describe it as frustratingly infrequent. The indie folk singer-songwriter’s track “Calvary” is the lead single from the recent EP Old Factory, his first release since 2011’s Salt Year.
“Calvary” is classic Bathgate, as he returns to form after several years of reflection. Much of that time was spent away from the rigors of the recording studio. He spent a good deal of these past years hiking and meditating upon the natural world. On this track, his uplifted spirit translates into gorgeous imagery: “Come to me/ when you’re troubled/ when you’re stumbling”
Bathgate sings these words pleadingly, as if he needs us to understand; however, it’s clear he is confident in his logic of joy when he asks us almost rhetorically, “Ain’t it good to be alive?” The instrumental elements on “Calvary”—jazzy drums, quick hi-hats, and soaring strings floating above the guitar—could easily veer into the gauzy melodrama of a ‘Band Aid’ benefit. Instead, Bathgate manages to surround his single with a finely hued emotional intensity.
The arrangements, taken in conjunction with the understated elation of Bathgate’s lyricism, swaddle us in a sense of satisfied place, bordering on the spiritual. On “Calvary” we are invited to look outward, to take a sweeping inventory of our environment and arrive at the same internalized conclusion as Bathgate has: It is good to be alive.
Listen to “Calvary” below: