"Am I falling apart? Am I making a mess? Trying to play this part? Is this the way I am?"
What a difference tone of voice can make! When Kris Orlowski sings these words in his "Falling Apart," his up-tempo, stoic delivery suggests that the singer is resolved to bootstrap himself to better personhood. He's already answered his self-doubt and knows how to progress.
In Maiah Manser's languid deconstruction of Orlowski's song, the singer sounds mired in her troubles, resigned rather than resolved, flooded with despair at a messy situation she can't figure out how to address. It's a completely different emotional timbre, and the contrast is both unnerving and beautiful.
Manser's rendition is part of an album of covers and remixes that Orlowski commissioned from musical friends and peers, including Rocky Votoloto, Andrew Joslyn and Jill Andrews. For the comp, each singer/rapper or producer tackles a different song from Orlowski's heart-swelling album Often in the Pause, which he released earlier this year. Find out if the other covers are as defiant and magnetic as Manser's when the covers album drops Oct. 7.
Until then, here's Manser's self-directed video for "Falling Apart," which we're premiering at City Arts today. Its slow-mo depiction of a domestic dispute among friends is a powerful reflection of the song's self-flagellation, elevating a mundane situation into a dramatic story by simple mode of expression.