Common Ground, the fourth studio album from Above & Beyond, was released Friday, January 26 – on the band’s own Anjunabeats imprint.
The album includes the 2017 festival anthems ‘My Own Hymn’, ‘Northern Soul’, ‘Alright Now’ and ‘Tightrope’ and new songs with longtime collaborators Justine Suissa (‘Naked’ and ‘Cold Feet’), Zoë Johnston (‘Sahara Love’ and ‘Always’) and Richard Bedford (‘Happiness Amplified’ and ‘Bittersweet & Blue.’)
Though we at FMF love the entire album the reviews seem to have Anjuna family noticeably divided…
Fresh Music Freaks Editor in Chief came across a Common Ground album analysis in the Anjuna Family Worldwide Facebook group and had to reach out to its author. The Anjuna force is strong in this one.
Andre Guignard delivers a mind-bending and beautiful analysis that after reading puts the album in a whole different light. Now we haven’t confirmed that this is the story behind the album but it does have us mesmerized…
Posted word for word….
The 13 songs in Above & Beyond’s newest album, Common Ground describe the story of two people who learned to reconnect with their own individual souls, meet one another and fall passionately in love, question the relationship and acknowledge the mistakes that were made, make the choice to break from the troubled relationship, and accept and respect the other’s decisions and the fate of the situation.
The album begins with the Inconsistency Principle that foreshadows the inconsistency of the relationship, one with deep passion and moments of questioning and culminates with Common Ground, which states that finding the common ground between one another creates lasting relationships that will always exist despite the past problems.
The two book-end tracks are uplifting and create a cycle by tying the end of the album back to the beginning. It’s important to note that the album seems to be split into two sections each with their own part of the overall narrative.
Following the story and progression of songs chronologically, My Own Hymn and Northern Soul are about two individuals each with their new-found goal to reconnect with their own soul and to stand on their own two feet again despite the problems they have previously dealt with.
Both songs can be assumed to take place before the two characters have met.
Northern Soul expresses the way the American people have abandoned the city of Detroit as a symbolic reference to the way the male in the story has been left behind, despite what he provided to his previous relationship.
My Own Hymn portrays the woman character who illustrates her naivety of her past relationship and the pain that has caused her. The two songs could be assumed to act as backstory to the two characters.
Naked takes place after the two characters have met. The woman explains of her attraction towards the other character and is asking to get naked both physically and emotionally. She metaphorically asks to strip down to the core of each other’s emotions and put behind past problems to truly connect without any barriers. The woman provides herself and male advice and guidance which the male recalls of later on in the album (Bittersweet & Blue). Naked’s play on words help to create a playful tone that that reflects the lighthearted love the woman is experiencing.
Unsure of where the male stands in the story, the album jumps into Sahara Love where the woman sings of her fiery passion and strong love for the man, wanting to heal, comfort, and protect him. The heat of the Sahara Desert is used as a symbolic reference for healing the male’s problems by providing him with her love and compassion to thaw and warm the male from the “cold” state he is in.
The album jumps forward now to the male character’s viewpoint of the relationship. Happiness Amplified showcases the male characters shear love and appreciation for the woman illustrating the romance of the relationship and the appreciation of love and guidance the woman has provided. This is the male characters turning point in the story where he frees himself from his past struggles and invests in the relationship acknowledging the strong love he has for her.
Is It Love?, the halfway point of the album, is the point after the “honeymoon phase” where doubt arises and the passion dissipates to reveal the true problems that may have been ignored or untouched.
The progressive rhythm and minimal lyrics act as an intermission or break to the overall narrative Cold Feet is the beginning of the woman’s concern of the relationship where she states that she loves the male, but the problems he brought to the relationship that he struggled let go of have caused her to fear the commitment and stability of the relationship. She exclaims that she fears to hold on and losing herself to the male’s inconsistency.
Tightrope explains of the fine line the relationship stands on and that the little bit of thin rope they walk on is dissipating. The male acknowledges that they walk the tightrope but questions why, unsure of what has lead to this point. Here, the male fails to see the complications that have pushed her away and is at a loss for resolution.
In another turning point for the characters, the female comes to the realization of the problems between the two, acknowledges her loss of self, and takes a step forward to regain control and stability.
Alright Now sings of the end of the relationship and that it is time for her to focus on her own self and health rather than the male. Here, the woman recalls the relationship and the problems that she left unnoticed such as the promise of empty dreams and plans. Much like in Happiness Amplified, the song is about a major realization and moment of clarity, which could explain why the two songs contain similar trance breakdowns (around 3:14 in Alright Now and 1:35 in Happiness Amplified).
Bittersweet & Blue is a beautiful song about the male character’s acceptance, respect, and understanding of the problems of the relationship and the reasoning of the woman’s choice to let go. The photograph he speaks of could be a nod to the photograph from Happiness Amplified.
The guidance and advice he explains of is the advice she has provided throughout. He genuinely tells the woman that he respects her choice to live her life the way she wants without him dragging her down and acknowledges the problems he brought to the relationship.
Lastly, Always is an ending song that sings of the soul of the relationship that will always exist, but also sings of what the woman character needed throughout. Its hopeful, but can also be considered as an ode to the conflict of the relationship; the common ground between the two for true, genuine, unfiltered love.
The analysis provided is by no means verified by Above & Beyond and anyone affiliated with them and the Anjunabeats record label and is only my own interpretation.
Analysis by Andre Guignard
WOW….right? We got goosebumps just from posting this. Thank You Andre!
Tell us what you think about this analysis below.