First Listen: Victory hits us at our core with “Broken Instrument”

It’s been said that the best songs possess the ability to move people at the core of their emotions or change the way that a person interacts with the world. I can say that “Broken Instrument,” Victory’s masterful three movement story of being fractured, discarded, discovered and redeemed accomplishes both. The tracks that inspire the title of Victory’s triumphant debut album, brought my wife to tears and had me seeking out my friends who own a piano repair and tuning business to see if they repaired electric organs (they didn’t, aw shucks).

Victory speaks through an instrument that made years of beautiful music until it broke, and the owners tossed it on the curb where it was then tossed into a garbage truck and eventually thrown into what appears to be the instrument’s final resting place – a landfill.

It’s been said that the best songs possess the ability to move people at the core of their emotions or change the way that a person interacts with the world. I can say that “Broken Instrument,” Victory’s masterful three movement story of being fractured, discarded, discovered and redeemed accomplishes both. The tracks that inspire the title of Victory’s triumphant debut album, brought my wife to tears and had me seeking out my friends who own a piano repair and tuning business to see if they repaired electric organs (they didn’t, aw shucks).

Victory speaks through an instrument that made years of beautiful music until it broke, and the owners tossed it on the curb where it was then tossed into a garbage truck and eventually thrown into what appears to be the instrument’s final resting place – a landfill.

Victory gives voice to this instrument in each of the three movements. The first begins with the instrument asking “how ever did I end up here/lying beside bottles emptied of beer/pushed to the curbside like a piece of junk on the roadside.” Part 1 possesses an arrangement that has the feel of a movie score that moves from being acoustic and folksy to orchestral to dramatically tense as the instrument recounts how she went from being something that brought joy to something that its owners discarded as a piece of junk. Violins swell as the instrument recalls the person who created her.

Part 2 is a spoken word piece rendered from a place of utter desolation – the junk yard where the instrument has been deposited at the city dump by a garbage truck. The instrument tries to maintain hope of being found and restored by the maker. The only thing that sustains the instrument is stories she heard of the legend of the maker, but that hope dims each time the garbage truck dumps more trash on top of her.

A funky and dramatic bass line propels the third movement, which finds the instrument watching as a disheveled man pushing a grocery cart enters the junk yard. She describes the man’s searches through the landfill for the treasures that most of humanity has discarded as trash. As the man comes closer, the instrument hopes that the man rescues her and he does. And this is point, as the man reaches for the instrument, sees the crack in her side but keeps her anyway, that the listener will realize the Victory is singing about something more than acoustic guitar or violent with a crack in the body. The instrument is a metaphor for the fragility and brokenness of humanity. The maker is probably God, but it is also anyone who has the divine vision to redemption and reconstruction in what others have discarded.

I played it for my wife Gail over the weekend and she heard it as a person of faith has known plenty of people who wondered how they wound up broken spiritually and cast on the side of the road in the middle of empty beer bottles. And it brought her to tears. She's so open to experiencing the beauty of art and not hiding her emotions. She also indulges my frequent forays into musical geekiness. That’s why I love her.

I’ve actually had the album The Broken Instrument since the summer when I first heard “Open Your Eyes.” I playing the album in the car and those last three songs came on. I just listened and was transfixed by this story and I saw that old Hammond B 3 on the side of the road – it couldn’t have been five minutes later and I went straight to my friends’ shop and told them about the electric organ. They said they only repaired pianos, and the Hammond B3 was gone a couple of days later. Every time I play these songs, I think of that organ. I know that sounds corny, but Victory and the “Broken Instrument” reminded me that music at its best can move us to tears and action. Check it out (in three parts) below.

By Howard Dukes

 

 
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