Ryan Culwell’s album Flatlands comes out March 3, on Lightning Rod Records (Joe Pug, Billy Joe Shaver, Amanda Shires). I’m grateful to have etched the album’s cover art, a linoleum cut print. Also, if you get the physical album, I have a poem in the liner notes. Brian Boebel at Dual Identity Design did the package design.

I include here Gustav Dore’s “The Destruction of Leviathan”, which is an illustration of Isaiah 27. Not only was Dore’s leviathan a touchstone for my rattlesnake, but Isaiah may be the best hermeneutic while listening to Flatlands

Not that this is any sort of creditable review, but I keep crying while I listen to it. But then I stop cuz I ain’t no sissy.

P.S. Rolling Stone premiered the album. For a little while, you can listen to it here: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/premieres/hear-texas-troubadour-ryan-culwell-evoke-springsteens-nebraska-on-new-album-20150223?page=2

Gustave Doré [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been fairly taken with Gustave Doré lately. I’m not particularly interested in his depictions of God – it’s always a let down when artists depict God as a mere man (with a beard!) (in a toga!) – but his engravings are arresting. A friend of mine and I were discussing how Salvador Dali’s colors seem to glow and how we can’t seem to figure out how he did that. I feel that way about Doré and his engravings. There is only black and white, yet there seems to be light coming from the inks. Look at the rays from the clouds, and more importantly follow the trajectory of that light as Leviathan attempts to flee. The print would have worked especially well had he left “God” out and just let the light be the thing striking fear into Leviathan. Anthropomorphization must be the Romanticism bleeding through.

The inscription reads: In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea…(Isaiah 27:1). 

Source material in illustration is apparently a boon.