B Sides & Badlands: Dearest Everybody, It’s OK Not to be Ok.

That’s what L.A. singer-songwriter Inara George, daughter of Little Feat’s frontman Lowell George, assures us with her first solo record in nine years, titled (you guessed it) Dearest Everybody. Her intricately-drawn reflections often feel like my own, “trapped between all this joy and all this sorrow,” as she sings on “Young Adult.” It’s the opening track, and it not only sets the tone, musically, but it exposes the raw complexity of what is ahead. The album is at times exhilarating; other times somber and heavy. Since its January release, I haven’t been able to get her voice out of my head. Often, I find myself wandering back through the past to one specific event – and with each listen, I discover something new about myself and that moment.

I had never seen someone die before. My dad lay ashen-faced and weary upon soft cotton sheets, the woolen blankets tenderly tucked around his ailing body. The hospice staff had been nothing but accommodating and kind since he checked in two days prior, and with each passing hour, I could see the color slowly drain from his cheeks. He was a fighter that one. When his time came, shortly before noon on an oddly warm October day, life shifted forever. Even though our relationship had been marred with complications, I was never the same.

I suppose that’s to be expected. Death is a monumental experience, framed between laughter and tears, hugs and shove-offs, peaceful intimacy and roaring separation. In the days, months and years that followed, booze certainly helped medicate the pain. Black-out nights pepper the bright and sunny ones. But I soon came to realize that by not confronting my ghosts, I was thereby reliving that day over and over and over again – without ever realizing it. Hindsight is 20/20, yeah?

Inara’s story, decorated in brittle, stunning detail, is a universal one. Through airy folk arrangements and expansive lyricism, she shares her journey from tragedy to acceptance to healing. “Crazy” sees her reliving the day her father died, crisps of paper and guitar sweeping beneath her, and “Release Me” is filtered through her mother’s eyes, who was left picking up the pieces after Lowell’s death (“My love, I will always love you but never will I forgive you for being gone,” she weeps). “Slow Dance” and “All for All” whisk by, looming juxtapositions of turning 40 and poignant deathbed confessions, respectively. With “Everybody,” a ghostly piano piece, she closes that chapter of her life, while also acknowledging the pain “doesn’t go away,” haunting her for the rest of her days. “If my life’s a play, oh, how your play is sweetly intertwined with mine,” she sings.

Through unraveling the pages of her own story, Inara unwittingly contributes to my own. Life as I know it is before my dad died and after my dad died, and music is and will always be the healing agent I so desperately need. Dear reader, you too can find solace in life’s most devastating moments, if you just let yourself truly feel it.

Inara’s Dearest Everybody is out now on all digital retailers.

– Jason Scott, HashtagWV #99. March 2018.

Jason has bylines in Billboard, Paste, Uproxx, PopCrush and many others. Follow him on Twitter: @jasonthescott. Get in contact via email: jason@bsidesbadlands.com.

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