Music that Moves Me: Mereba
My favorite music is the kind that defies categorization.
I’ve never been a genre listener. When playlist.com was a thing (RIP my teenage romance), I’d have playlists that were hundreds of songs long, sampling everything from my parent’s generational anthems to MySpace dance pop to 90’s hip hop to really corny ballads from every era. I was not a discerning music critic. I was a teen girl on the family computer in the basement, discovering and building a world one song at a time, expanding what I knew of life (of love, of parties, of hardship, of desire) by deeply listening. And broadly listening. Giving so many songs a chance.
I never knew how to answer the get-to-know-you question “What kind of music do you like?” Saying “Everything” felt too much like a blanket statement. It didn’t honor all the digging I was doing to compile those patchwork playlists. For all the hundreds of songs I added, there were hundreds more I didn’t add, songs that didn’t resonate through the computer speakers, songs that didn’t stop me in my tracks and say, “What is true for this singer, is true for you too.”
It wasn’t until college that I found a good answer to the question. A person I was travelling with asked me what kind of music I liked, and after hemming and hawing about liking a little bit of everything, I said, “No, I want to change my answer. I like music that sounds like a movie.”
My favorite songs and artists and musicians have something undeniably cinematic about them. At the sound of the first few chords, I get a sense of the song’s protagonist climbing out of bed, pounding the sidewalk on their way to some pivotal moment, driving in a car that rushes and blurs through a liquid, glittery night. When my most beloved musicians make an album, they’re not stringing together a series of chart-toppers. They’re telling a story, cover to cover, and taking you through the movies we all make in our minds.
Mereba’s visual EP “The Jungle Is The Only Way Out” found me on Youtube. I knew Mereba was going to be a new sonic soulmate from the opening scene. She’s standing in a tree, writing in her journal, a Moleskin Classic Notebook, Hard Cover, Willow Green, the same notebook I take with me wherever I go. (It’s an Exceptionally Well Made Journal, for anyone looking) Mereba looks concentrated on the future as the other characters of the film join her in the tree. She’s focused on the story she’s telling and the world she’s about to open up for us. In the next seven minutes, we’re shown just a few scenes -— a kickback, a slow dance, a bedroom with far-flung clothes and an open suitcase, another slow dance, this time in black and white. The music acts as a guide through each scene, the camera pushing in and pulling back, panning away from the father and daughter dancing to take in the sky, the endless expanse above us, so we can’t stay too long in any one moment. The narrator gives us a glimpse into the sweetness, the sorrow each chapter contained, but she can’t linger. She’s trying to get through the jungle. Face each difficult lesson for what it taught her but continue onward, through the thicket.
She raps. She plays guitar. She produces. She croons. She writes poems and delivers them like a prayer. She flows between the different mediums and the false boxes of genre, finding her voice in each of them. She melds the dictations of soul and folk and r&b and poetry around her distinctive warble, wearing her voice like a low-slung leather bag over a jaded world traveler’s shoulder. She sings it herself, “inside its killing me baby, outside I’m cu-cumber cool.” She’s calm and collected, restrained in her delivery, but the tone she develops, with layers of her own vocals, swells of gospel and violin,
Listening to the entire album is its own cinematic experience.
Stay Tru, Get Free, Highway 10, Souvenir
When You’re in the Mood for
Getting yourself to the nearest body of water and watching the sunset
Night drives (pairs well with Ari Lennox’s Night Drive)
Slow dancing with a loved one. Counting yourself as a loved one