Set in the year 2007, The Get-Togethers’ first album, Home as in Houston, tells a roughly chronological story of the most horrific year of lead singer Bethany Gray’s life. Starting with an affair with a female teacher at her high school, the police reports, private investigations and courtroom hearings that rolled on through the following months, starting college at the University of Texas at Austin, culminating in a head-on collision car accident at 70 mph and her slow recovery whilst in the presence of fast friend Daniel Frazier. She eventually went to Nashville with him and met the rest of the band, Kayce Grossman and Andrew Frazier, who immediately got behind her concept album. They ultimately created the soundtrack to her 2007, filled with twelve ballads named after the months of the year.
The first song, “January”, opens with dreary and ominous lyrics. “I gave you every piece of me, I need them back / How could I put my life together, you had everything I lacked / But God has patched me up real good, put flesh upon my bones / I was broke, I was beat, I was all alone” paints a visceral image of a young girl trapped in her self-loathing and loneliness. “February” has biting imagery as well, with phrases like, “The way your eyes looked like two lit cigarettes,” and “Our typewriter teeth ticked in the February air.” These earlier slow songs have a rhythm similar to some of Rilo Kiley’s early albums. I can almost hear Jenny Lewis singing some of the songs on this album; it’s so reminiscent of “Better Son or Daughter” from Execution of all Things.
“March” is when Gray really starts to hit the nail on the head, talking about how reckless she and her former lover and teacher were. And spring into Act II – “June” has an energetic beat and gathers action, probably making it the most likely to be a first single. It fits perfectly into the theme of the months, since June is when all remnants of cold melt away and warmth and promise abound.
“August” touches on the moment when The Get-Togethers, well, got together officially. Bethany’s lyrics again touch on her sense of loss and abandonment “All through the day I congruently played / A game where blocks fell in and out of place / My life was Tetris pieces when you came,” sentiments so similar to Lavender Diamond’s “Bring Me a Song.”
“October” is a bridge to her finding her way home within herself – though the lyrics themselves say “I will burn every bridge” over and over. This song was the most powerful to me, between the strong folk-rock beat and the life in Gray’s voice, it sends home the message of triumph over adversity in the most moving way.
The rest of the album comes to a conclusive and empowering end as The Get-Togethers reach a point of harmony, hope and possible redemption. There are so many subtle details of the music and lyrics that I could go into and make this review three times as long, but instead I implore you listen to Home as in Houston and hear your own thoughts and feelings echoing in Gray’s story. After all, we’ve all been through hell in one way or another. Some of us more so than others. Some of us have yet to go through anything really trying, but we will. And what you do with it and what you learn from it will make all the difference. Kudos to The Get-Togethers for one of the strongest concept albums I’ve listened to this year.
– Bailey Cool