On the song “Living Conformists and Dead Troublemakers,” on his new album “Wayword,” Garrett Soucy and his wife, Sirii, a.k.a. Mr. and Mrs. Garrett Soucy, makes as bold a statement as anyone has made lyrically in Maine in years. It’s a total rejection of the “juggernaut” — the seemingly unending tsunami of information, anxiety, consumption and other modern-day conveniences that distract most people from the real world. He wants nothing to do with the rat race. That’s probably part of the reason he lives in Waldo County.
Soucy, a guitarist, songwriter, devout Christian and pastor at the Christ the King Church in Belfast, has made music Maine for more than 20 years — as a solo artist, a duo and with his former bands Tree By Leaf and Sunlight in Architecture. Some of his songs are more explicitly faith-based than others, but his spirituality is always the guiding hand in every song he writes, whether it’s front and center or obscured. With “Wayword,” his second album with his wife as Mr. and Mrs. Garrett Soucy, he marries his intellectual curiosity with his faith, inspired by the works of Marshall McLuhan, the almost terrifyingly prescient media scholar, who among other things predicted the Internet, the development of television as a medium, and all the moral implications therein. After extensive study of McLuhan’s works, Soucy takes a look at the modern world through his lens, and does not particularly like what he sees. He doesn’t condemn it, per se; but he does critique it, often quite forcefully.
Musically, “Wayword” is largely stripped down folk music, with sparse instrumentation, mostly relying on Soucy’s highly rhythmic guitar strumming, passionate singing and Sirii’s gentle harmony vocals. Soucy has a knack for melodies, though only the upbeat, wry “Ladies or Gentlemen” offers up anything resembling a hook hummable melody, and only that and “Anachronistic Progress” feature a full band. Hooks aren’t really the point here, however. “Wayword” is a deeply philosophical and spiritual exercise that would collapse under the weight of its own self-seriousness if it weren’t for Soucy’s charisma, compelling vocals and overall skillfulness as a songwriter. Perhaps that’s what also makes him an effective preacher.
Mr. and Mrs Garrett Soucy will open for Richard Shindell at One Longfellow Square in Portland on March 12.