Abe Partridge “Love in the Dark”

Baldwin County Public Records Inc, 2023

Singer-songwriter from Alabama bares his soul.

Album cover artwork for 'Love in the Dark' by Abe PartridgeAbe Partridge is an army vet, former Baptist preacher, podcaster and painter from Mobile, Alabama. His podcasts investigate previously undocumented songs at Appalachian churches and, bizarrely, the handling of serpents. He is an interesting character and this comes through on his new album. ‘Love In The Dark’ is an original, uncompromising record where he bares his soul and which is not always an easy listen. Some will like his work very much, others not so much. His lyrics can contain genuine turmoil, confusion and anger. It feels as if he is an artist who is compelled to make art, perhaps as catharsis, where appealing to an audience is of secondary importance.

The album starts well with title track ‘Love In The Dark’ which, like many others here, has a Townes Van Zant feel with acoustic guitar picking. The lyrics deal poetically with his youthful religious fervour fading in adulthood. Low-key female harmonies come in at times and these work very well to complement Partridge’s gravelly vocals, as they do on other tracks such as ‘When You Go Down’ and ‘Coffee On The Counter’. Strings and piano are added on this and others which really enhances the sound. ‘Young Love (Alabama Skies)’ is in a similar vein but with nice slide guitar and is an interesting tale of a summer love finishing when the girl goes off to college.

Second track ‘Abe Partridge’s 403d Freakout’ portrays a middle-of-the-night hallucinatory stream-of-consciousness over discordant notes and chords. The lyrics sound as if they are spoken or shouted through a megaphone. It starts with thoughts of death, consciousness and nuclear holocaust but then turns to the Beatles and Albert Einstein and what would have happened if they had met, which doesn’t work as well unless you can see the funny side in it. You get a sense of Partridge’s anguish here with phrases such as “losing my freaking mind” and “my tortured mind”.

Many of the other tracks consist of similar diatribes which are sometimes angry. In ‘Pop Country Is For Poseurs’ Partridge talks of his teenage angst and liking of psychedelia and then the Sex Pistols. He voices his disdain for “fake yuppies” saying “consumer masses ain’t got no soul”. In ‘Fake It Till You Make It’  he despairs of playing to audiences who only want tunes they know and “casting my pearls before swine” but refuses to bow to them.

‘Alabama Astronauts’ is a not particularly engaging story of aliens landing in Alabama, set to a low-fi hip-hop beat that sets it apart musically. ‘Helter Skelter’ tells of a night playing cards and drinking ending badly and is better. The penultimate track ‘Look Up’ is a key song where you really get a sense of Partridge as a person. There are moving meditations on death and the despair brought by his loss of faith with this blow being softened by the beauty and wonder of the stars.

This album is about as far from mainstream country as you can get and there will be readers out there who will very much appreciate this.


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments