The combination of the current political turmoil and the quarantine put in place to combat the COVID-19 outbreak has taken a toll on everyone. “House Arrest,” the first single from Soul Saver, addresses these tensions and the unique stresses and emotions survivors of domestic violence may be experiencing at this moment.
Soul Saver is a project founded by Black 47’s bass player Joe Burcaw, Living Colour’s vocalist Corey Glover and multi-instrumentalist Jaeme Brennan-McDonald. “Since Black 47’s retirement, I’ve been running and teaching at my music school,” Burcaw said. “To keep my hands in the game//, I’m also involved in several musical projects. Doug Wimbish, Living Colour’s current bass player, is a friend and neighbor of mine and his godson, Jaeme Brennan-McDonald, is a talented guitarist and songwriter. Doug introduced me to Corey and he got involved with some bass infused EDM stuff we’re currently working on. Along the way, Jaeme and I started another project with less focus on electronic beats; a more homegrown soul meets gospel, meets dance R&B kind of thing. We thought Corey would be the perfect vocalist for that group.”
The trio got together, virtually, for some remote writing sessions. “I was reading in the New York Times about the upswing in domestic violence and sexual abuse under quarantine,” Burcaw said. “It hit a nerve. I began thinking of the people who are affected by this. I approached the guys about writing a song dealing with domestic abuse. We came up with the lyrics and music for ‘House Arrest’ collectively. We’re all easy going, open-minded folks, willing to take chances musically and lyrically. The song came together effortlessly.”
“House Arrest” delivers a rich stew of soul, gospel and R&B impulses. The track opens with chattering J.B./Famous Flames guitar, thumping bass, synthesized horn stabs and a crackling funk beat. Glover comes in showering listeners with his familiar melismas, long high notes and mournful growls to deliver the lyric:
“Getting drunk and watching the game is just a thing of the past,
he treats his wife as nothing more, than just a piece of ass…”
As Brennan-McDonald’s gospel flavored piano joins in and the melody shifts to describe the woman’s perspective, Glover takes a more righteous tone.
“She can’t take much more of this, her will is growing thin,
in this house there’s no safe space, the walls are closing in…”
Sanctified organ, staccato bass accents and a driving Spector inspired backbeat segue into the chorus, with Glover adding vocal harmonies to intensify the impact of the message:
“Gotta get out, gotta get away,
gotta try ‘cos there’s a price to pay,
she’s been through it, she knows what’s best,
gotta run from this house arrest…”
The second verse describes the woman’s desperation, the cries of her children and her decision to flee her home. Burcaw’s propulsive bass, the funk/rock backbeat and Glover’s stirring vocal strains promise a release from the tension. A brief instrumental breakdown sets up the sounds of women talking on the phone, planning an escape for the terrified mother. Brennan-McDonald’s organ returns, adding gospel-like flourishes as Glover’s multi-tracked vocal harmonies suggest deliverance with their uplifting call and response improvisations. It’s a powerful end to a formidable song.
“Abuse manifests in subtle and not so subtle ways,” Glover said. “It requires you to be cognizant of it. The effect of that behavior affects everyone. It has an emotional resonance you can’t not deal with. That’s why Joe hooked us up with RAINN. We’re donating a portion of our profits to them. They’ll use the song in any way it can be used, to bring attention to the violence perpetrated by partners. The violence doesn’t exist only in hetero relationships. It exists everywhere. It reaches across all aspects of human existence – class, race, and orientation.”
“COVID-19 has posed unique challenges for individuals experiencing violence at the hands of an intimate partner,” said Heather Drevna, RAINN’s vice president of communications. “Social distancing means that they may be spending more time at home in close quarters with an abuser and that they may be cut off from their normal support networks and safe spaces. We thank Soul Saver for their support for our victim service programs, which have seen a surge in visitors this year. The National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE or online.rainn.org) continues to be available 24/7 with free, confidential support.”