by Kat Harding (@iwearaviators)
It is with extreme difficulty that I can write anything about Eric Schermerhorn's incredible Flowers Not Dry, and even harder to do so in a manner other than with simply a page full of crying emoji. Written and recorded in the months leading up to his son’s birth, the album is a beautiful discussion of grief, pain, and loss. Sage Schermerhorn, born March 31, 2016, died June 25 from a Cerebral Arteriovenous Malformation. His legacy lives on in this album, where Eric works to figure out his new identity as a father with only the memory of his son.
The cover art is a grey and cloudy day, with a view from the shore out to a body of water. Land is on the other side, but not realistically reachable. And most notable, the view is rotated 90 degrees, a symbol of the cataclysmic shift in perspective that comes with being a parent, and then being a parent in grief. The world no longer makes sense.
The song titles speak to the devastation Schermerhorn and his family braced themselves to feel. "Touch Me," "I'm Still Here," and "I Need a Song," plead with someone, anyone, to give comfort in the impending heartbreak. The album opens with “Base,” a quiet whisper of a song describing some of the prognosis. In “Touch Me,” a powerful track with forceful piano playing, a touch of guitar, and steady drums, Schermerhorn promises that he “won’t carry broken things to you” and will change, very much in the bargaining stage of grief. It is clear here the deep pure love a parent has for a child, and emotional turmoil Schermerhorn is now in: his everyday worries laugh in his face while he lays awake at night with the crushing and irreversible information about his son’s demise. In this song, as in “Ropes In The Water” before it, there is the imagery of water pulling objects apart -- the tides, an uncontrollable part of life, much like death.
“Lord knows I said the words, over and over, but still I’ve been afraid to look into your eyes and tell you how I loved you, quietly for all this time” Schermerhorn sings on “One Blue Dozen,” making the listener acutely aware of just how painful it is to actually look into the face of your suffering child, a child you so wanted and who will never have the life you imagined. How do you face someone you’re about to lose? You do it, because if you don’t, you won’t be able to live with yourself.
The whole album is learning to live with oneself after the unimaginable happens. It closes with “Perigee,” the point in the orbit of the moon where it is closest to the earth, a wrenching metaphor for just how close Schermerhorn and Sage were able to get in just a small point in time. Schermerhorn plays the album out in a short instrumental track, prompting meditation and reflection before it ends abruptly, leaving the listener wanting more.
All proceeds of the sale of the album go to the very people that helped Sage on his short journey through life, The Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center at Boston Children's Hospital. The album is available digitally, with the future promise of hard copies, from Eric's bandcamp page.