Norfolk, VA-based guitar slinger Michael Paul Lawson creates visceral Americana, blending prose and raw realities into folk songs that recall the early work of Jason Isbell and John Prine. Today, he is premiering his new single “Wolf By The Tail.” The track is lifted from his 8 song EP, Some Fights You’ll Never Win, which is due to drop July 12th.
“Wolf By The Tail” finds the songwriter in a precocious mood, weighing the pros and cons of staying in a toxic relationship. The girl he’s pining over is clearly bad news but our boy is too tied up in his conflicting emotions to see the forest for the trees, his heart; poisoned by her perfume, his mind; filled with a kind of West Texas barroom lust. The song hits its apex with the carnal couplet “All this blood on my hands / There’s no ground where I stand,” which gives way to the sweeping closer, “Damned if I stick around, damned if I bail / Loving her is like holding a wolf by tail.”
Lawson sings in a pleasingly earnest timber and the rich, cinematic chorus is complimented by a delicate descending piano turn-around which evokes Michael Andrews’ haunting score for Donnie Darko. It’s one of many instances throughout the album where you can feel the fingerprints of producer Daniel Mendez (Noah Gundersen and The Native Sibling) who likes to take things up a notch in the most subtlest of ways. This particular goose bump inducing moment becomes more and more poignant each time it comes to pass, allowing the bloodthirsty imagery to slowly take hold on the imagination.
Regarding the merciless thematic constructs, Lawson affirms, “I think that a lot of times we get into these toxic relationships because we come across somebody who meets some idealistic standard that we’ve created, whether it’s physical beauty, status or money. This kind of craving dulls our rational mind. There’s an internal conflict that comes with it, especially if you’re repeating the same relationship over and over. Eventually it’s not about the other person anymore and it’s more about whatever desire you’re trying to feed.”