Over the last 12 years, Ross Gays poems have given us indelible images and phrases of radical empathy and unabated gratitude; about community, collaboration, connectedness and hard work. They have crept into our hearts and made a home of all of us. And so Jagjaguwar are launching their 25th Anniversary celebration with Dilate Your Heart, the first spoken word album since titan Robert Creeleys self-titled release twenty years ago.
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is given a gorgeous, slowly creeping bed of vines by Bon Iver, as Gays unadorned voices speaks a lifetimes of Thank Yous. On Burial, harpist and composer Mary Lattimores lunar landscape follows Gays voice into space, telling of our endless energy exchange with nature. Chicagos Angel Bat Dawid dances with the frenetic, joyous scene Gay leads us through on To the Fig Tree on 9th and Christian, in which a group of Philadelphia strangers scramble together to harvest the fruit of the titular urban fig tree. Songwriter Gia
Margaret provides a mystical, amniotic environment for Gays Poem To My Child If Ever You Shall Be, a love letter to an imagined future child, treating Gays voice like a message in a bottle to a far off idea made only of love and potential. Sam Gendel, a secret weapon collaborator, affects Gays voice on Sorrow Is Not My Name to something glassy and almost singsongy. Throughout, Gay recites his poems with bright aliveness, his voice as warm and easy when he speaks about death as when he speaks about mercy, or love.