Summer SOULstice Fest Recap
April 15, 2019
The Salt Exchange – Album 1
May 4, 2019

In the back lot of Frontline Foundations, a substance abuse counseling facility in Chesterton, Indiana, is an unassuming looking garage with a sign on the door reading, “Welcome to the Conduit”. It is in this building that a collaborative music project, The Salt Exchange, assembles to write, perform, and record their music. I first had the opportunity to listen to their debut album, aptly named ALBUM1, shortly after its online release in September of 2016. I was struck by the powerfully raw way in which it was not only written, but performed and produced.

Lyrical content aside, which is truly responsible for the heartfelt emotions it induces, ALBUM1 is musically pretty straightforward, most songs with little more than guitars and vocals. Every rule must, of course, have its exceptions, most notably with the presence of a steel drum in the opening track “Be Somebody”, a full band in the soulful yet upbeat rendition of Lynrd Skynrd’s “Simple Man, and “Hope”, which is both the album’s only hip hop and electronically produced beat. Many of the songs evoke a type of nostalgic sort of campfire vibe, the kind of sound that feels intimate, regardless of where you are or who with. Although maybe not technically perfect, there is a very human quality throughout that is refreshing in an industry that relies so heavily on quantization and programming to create its sound.

Equally human, and even more refreshing, is the undeniably honest, open, and uplifting lyricism. It is this quality that truly sets ALBUM1 apart from the often bland and arguably uninspired writing in much of today’s popular music. Lines such as “all you need is hope, in addition to putting it all in motion/ Don’t throw your third eye open just to kill it with the potion…” or “life’s a crazy machine, if you’re a cog then you don’t know what I mean, but be strong!” are some of the first examples that come to mind when trying to share the expressions of pains past, struggles present, and hope for a future built on both of the former. Calls for self-improvement can be heard throughout “Daddy Issues” as the artist speaks of no longer “living in denial,” but instead “leaving the fear behind” to press on and “run this mile”. “Infinity of Memory” speaks of mourning the death of a loved one. “Though it’s still hard to face it, those memories, I won’t replace them/ We’ll have tomorrow even if you have to go/ Because we swore to live more for the lives of loved ones cut short/ I swear, I swear that we swore.”

ALBUM1 closes with “Temporary”, which seemed to embody the feeling of the entire album. The rapped verses contain too much material to properly cover in this medium so….. LISTEN TO IT!! Each verse provides a totally unique point of view while all are tied together with the warning of the pain that “lies in the night” and the soulfully simple reminder that “this life is temporary” and no matter the pain, “it all goes away”.

While listening to ALBUM1, I found myself feeling, at once, heartbroken, empathetic, encouraged, and fulfilled as each line bled into the next… as each song spilled into the one after… as every artist built on the energy of the other… All of that said, I am definitely looking forward to ALBUM2…

ALBUM1 can be purchased online in either CD format or digital download.

Leave a Reply