Grief is relentless. Invisible to most, it manifests itself in the mundane moments in life; the now empty bus seat, the unsent texts and the indescribable vacuum where energy was once present.
The human experience creates tight bonds built on seemingly insignificant moments, that on reflection were the most palpable. Grief turns the beautiful shared experiences into a constant reminder of loss.
David Balfe’s solo venture, For Those I Love captures the unrelenting nature of grief. Through an unfiltered recounting of his youth, we are guided from the camaraderie of the football terraces to the depths of a weekend-long bender.
Paul Curran’s tragic passing brought widespread condolences and in turn changed the course of ‘For Those I Love’. The raw depiction of the aftermath of his loss juxtaposed the carefree tales of youth, to paint vividly the ramifications of a life cut short.
There is no doubt in the delivery, the seemingly unavoidable feelings associated with the passing of his best friend are plainly laid out for consumption. I Have a Love opens the project with the same deliberate energy that is present throughout. The lyrics “I can see your face when those chords are replayed”, are but one of the examples of the difficulties of trying to continue when things will never be the same.
Grief, it appears in this project is never ending; it’s something that is omnipresent and it’s reflected in the production. The repetitive, almost astral and hypnotic instrumentals that whirl throughout the likes of ‘Waterfalls / To Live’ reflect the ongoing mourning.
“The weight of the hangover hungover this year and you drink to stop that trembling fear”, encapsulates the looming feelings associated with loss and the destructive tendencies born out of a need to escape this seemingly enclosed world that suffocates all that are present.
The pent up frustration present in Top Scheme directs anger at the societal ills that are often ignored. It’s a confrontational and exasperated cry that comes from a feeling of helplessness in a time where troubles and complaints are “Just numbers until it’s your life”. It’s an embodiment of the punk ethos, a fuck you to the establishment and a demand for accountability. “How can we not feel this rage when the therapy cost more than half your wage and you’re turfed back out that same very day.” The subsequent rage is yet another example of grief manifesting itself in other emotions.
Through these cathartic proclamations, the importance of Paul’s legacy and the healing power of art becomes clear. The Shape Of You retells the empowering capacity of owning your experiences. “Stories never breed sadness, they treat it and if you can grasp it, own it, deal with it, you can heal with it, so I’ll heal with it.” This mantra induces a more self–affirming and empowering narrative to the project.
Birthday/ The Pain celebrates the spirit of friendship and its critical importance to survival, “because the world is a cruel, cruel place without love”. The track provides a certain bounce and cause for hope that is missing until this point. A call to lock arms with those you hold dearest and weather the storm that is life in hopes that it’ll all be ok.
The consistent cries of “I have a love and it never fades”, throughout the project bring a determined tone aimed to provide resilience in the darkest of days.
Much like the unrelenting manner of grief, ‘For Those I Love’ provides the counter cry of “I have a love and it never fades”. A call for those suffering to own their experience and to heal through the love and support of those closest to them.
The resilient tone and determined delivery utilised through spoken word provides the kind of conviction that allows the audience to believe in the message. It’s tough but friendship’s warm embrace eases the pain.
‘For Those I Love’ recounts the harrowing aftermath of loss and David Balfe responds in the only way he knows how – through art. ‘For Those I Love’ is graphic in its depiction of grief and determined in its response. It’s an ode to friendship in an unforgiving world.