If I was a cowboy I would ride out west in the wintertime. If I was a beautiful man I wouldn’t worry ’bout love. If I was a waterfall, I would let water fall. If I was a broken record, I’d play the same two chords forever. Yeah yeah.
Rich men make eyes over rich chocolate cake and rich women. Rich boys tear off their clothes and do lots of blow. Rich girls follow poor boys around for a sense of danger. Everyone’s a hero baby, everyone’s a hero I know, I know, I know.
If I was a better man, I’d love you like you deserve. If I was a better man, I’d love you, but I ain’t got the nerve…
If I was a tortured soul, I’d make perfect art.
At times, it seems as though Gabriel Birnbaum — the lead singer, guitarist, saxophonist and general brainchild behind New York band Boy Without God — is as tortured as they come. And that’s because at times, Boy Without God’s debut album God Bless The Hunger is pretty damn close to perfect. Birnbaum says that God Bless The Hunger has been a long time in the making, and it shows. The diversity of styles, from jazz to big band to orchestral folk and beyond, work largely because of how each song seems painstakingly arranged and yet somehow still breathes freely.
The above lyrics come from what is the standout track from God Bless The Hunger, “Of Cowboys & Other Beautiful Men.” The song is all Birnbaum’s low-register, acoustic strum and muted horns at the start. But a little less than two minutes in, the song opens up like a mountain pass opens into the valley. Things get joyfully noisy — there’s swells of strings, more horns and, eventually, some tambourine and Birnbaum’s shouting crescendo. All before the strings take over and fade us out. It’s a beautiful 4 minutes and 36 seconds, and it’s just one example of what Boy Without God show they are capable of on God Bless The Hunger.
You can listen to the album in full on BWG’s bandcamp page, and you can download “Of Cowboys & Other Beautiful Men” below as well as “City Kids,” which should give you a better idea of the band’s range.
(God Bless The Hunger is due out June 21, and is self-released)