Keep Left at the Fork

by Leslie Hudson

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1.
PERFECT STORM // I crossed o’er the river / the sun setting low / the clouds started gathering / and a voice I should know, said / this river is rising / and you’re in its way / the thunder is rolling in today // I can’t help but wonder / at all I’ve undone / at all I am building / at all I have sung / this bridge was the hardest / the river runs deep / and swallows the secrets / I no longer keep // when the rain falls / when the rain falls / when the rain falls / how did I find myself suddenly warm / in a perfect storm? // I come wearing nothing / to have or to hold / for I have discovered how / to never grow old / I’m lost when I’m waiting / and I’m joy when I give / so I have decided here and now to live // when the rain falls / when the rain falls / when the rain falls / how did I find myself suddenly warm / in a perfect storm? //
2.
Tetherless 03:39
TETHERLESS // this isn’t god, I’m trapped get me outta here / or wish I didn’t have this dead end job / it’s not I gotta chase a distant horizon / or gonna start a brand new life abroad // but I need to know if I can do this / gonna take my songs and run / only bring what I can carry / gonna walk beneath the sun // my grip is tenuous at best / I’m feeling tetherless // this isn’t god, I’m scared to get outta here / or wish I didn’t have to leave my home / it’s not I gotta see my name in neon lights / or gonna wander aimless on my own // but I need to know if I can do this / gonna take my songs and run / only bring what I can carry / gonna melt beneath the sun // my grip is tenuous at best / I’m feeling tetherless // 48 states in a single long line / bet it’s gonna take me a really long time / 48 states in a single long line / New York to California / 48 states in a single long line / bet it’s gonna take me a really long time / 48 states in a single long line / Washington to Florida // oh, I need to know if I can do this / gonna take my songs and run / only bring what I can carry / gonna dance beneath the sun // my grip is tenuous at best / I’m feeling tetherless //
3.
Unsaved 04:13
UNSAVED // I remember the night it went up in smoke / I was singing a song of forgiveness / and how even love doesn’t cover all sins / when a heart has been robbed of fulfilment // I remember the light that shone through the glass / and the magic I felt in the music / they couldn’t believe the things I saw / but I had the vision to prove it // a touch on my skin / a burning in / standing, surrounded, aflame / all of the passion of the girl I had been / returned to the woman I became / a light in my heart / another start / remembering I never caved / I saw the magic in the air / even then, even there / unsaved // I remember the day it crumbled and fell / I was thinking about resurrection / and how I knew I could never go home / where the bodies were only reflections // a touch on my skin / a breathing in / falling without any sound / all the compassion for the girl I had been / returned to the keeping of the ground / a hole in the sky / another try / remembering more than a grave / I saw the magic in despair / even then, even there / unsaved // the apples were ripe for the taking / and I was a world in the making / they couldn’t believe the things I knew / I didn’t expect them to // a touch on my skin / a sinking in / standing but never the same / all of the passion from the girl I had been / returned to the woman I became / a lump in my throat / another coat / remembering how to be brave / I saw the magic everywhere / even then, even there / unsaved // I remember the night it went up in smoke / I was singing a song of forgiveness //
4.
THIS ISN’T YOU // -what are you doing here on the road?- / -where are you going?- There! -you don’t know- / I haven’t come this far to turn back now / it’s time to go, go, go / -turn back around- / go, go, go // -what are you looking for on the road?- / -what are you waiting for? you don’t know- / I haven’t pushed this hard to turn back now / it’s time to go, go, go / -turn back around- / go, go, go // it’s time to wake up! / -uh-uh, turn back around- / push through! / -uh-uh, you can’t do it- / reach out! / -uh-uh, what were you thinking?- / -this isn’t you, this isn’t you- / like hell it’s not // -how did you think this was gonna go?- / -what did you hope you were gonna show?- / I didn’t leave it all to turn back now / it’s time to go, go, go / feet on the ground / go, go, go // it’s time to wake up! / -uh-uh, turn back around- / push through! / -uh-uh, you can’t do it- / reach out! / -uh-uh, what were you thinking?- / -this isn’t you, this isn’t you- / like hell it’s not // so what if I’ve gotta make this up as I go? / to hell with all the oughtas I should already know / I didn’t do this twenty years ago / no, I wasn’t ready to be living on the road // it’s time to wake up! / -uh-uh, turn back around- / push through! / -uh-uh, you can’t do it- / reach out! / -uh-uh, what were you thinking?- / -this isn’t you, this isn’t you- / like hell it’s not //
5.
LOCKED AND LOADED // days at a time you lay in the dark / under shadow, marked / courting a crime you held in your heart / wading shallow, sharp // locked and loaded / so determined to be lost / locked and loaded / you were itching to be tossed / but I couldn’t let you / I didn’t wanna let you / dive in, dive in, no / I just couldn’t let you / I didn’t wanna let you in // coming undone I slip through the cracks / to the bottom, black / out of the sun and ready to snap / anchor pulling back // locked and loaded / so determined to be lost / locked and loaded / I was itching to be tossed / so I couldn’t let you / I didn’t wanna let you / dive in, dive in, no / I just couldn’t let you / I didn’t wanna let you in // locked and loaded / so determined to be lost / locked and loaded / pushing back at any cost / locked and loaded / I don’t wanna be lost / so I’ll try to let you / I’m gonna try to let you / dive in, dive in, oh / I will try to let you / I’m gonna try to let you in // hope I still know how to swim //
6.
SHATTER SCATTER PATTERN // I’ve got your back ‘cause there are times / it’s all you’ll let me see / we’re off the track we used to walk / pretending we were free / there isn’t one piece of what we broke / it’s all but smoke / and I can’t breathe deep enough / to get high on you now // if the essence of the thing that was / can last beyond the shatter / does it matter that it’s broken / or that all that’s left is scattered? / I don’t know, but now and then / I think it was, I think I’ve been / much more than pattern / more than pattern this time // I made a deal I wouldn’t write / and shut the river down / I cleared my head and filled it up / with both feet on the ground / there isn’t one piece of what we made / we tried to save / and I can’t dig deep enough / to understand you now / if the essence of the thing that was / can last beyond the shatter / does it matter that it’s broken / or that all that’s left is scattered? / I don’t know, but now and then / I think it was, I think I’ve been / much more than pattern / more than pattern this time / more than pattern / more than pattern this time //
7.
Just Be 03:22
JUST BE // I’ve been anxious, I’ve been tired / I’ve been crossed and I’ve been wired / overwhelmed and overemphasized / called upon to understand and empathize // every little light has got a darker shade / everyone I love’s about to be remade / better bring your game you’re starting second half / step out of the rain and remember to laugh // just be // like a rock I have been rolled / like a child I have been told / underfed and underutilized / now’s the time to overwrite and optimize // every little light has got a darker side / everyone I know has got a bruise to hide / dig into the dirt if you want to come clean / step out of the rain and remember to dream // just be / just be // shrug it off today / give it up and play / go find another way / go find another way / go find another way to // just be / just be / just be //
8.
Ask Who I Am 05:37
ASK WHO I AM // I’ve found it easy to blaze a trail / so easy I don’t always see what I’m blazing / forging ahead where others fail / turning the dream into making / and I make my own luck as I blaze along / with a glamour that rounds off the edges / a copperhead mistress of magic and song / look close and you’ll see where the edge is // if you ask who I am I will ask you the same / and this isn’t only a Trickster’s game / for the Speaker of Truth has the same to say / I am who you are today // I love with all that I am and more / ever the champion of vulnerable spaces / opening up to molten core / with the courage to love the dark places / but I’ll pick up and go when I feel it’s time / and I’ve gathered epiphanies brilliant and bruised / to muse as I wander in liminal rhyme / over all of the words I could choose // if you ask who I am I will ask you the same / and this isn’t only a Trickster’s game / for the Speaker of Truth has the same to say / I am who you are today / I am who you are today // the joy of the rain when it first fell down / love that begins to unfurl / life that’s been lived across sight and sound / accumulating the world / dust of the stars in our very skin / snowflakes all part of the snow / the web that connects every outside in / there’s more to the riddle you know // when you ask who I am I will ask you the same / and this isn’t only a Trickster’s game / for the Speaker of Truth has the same to say / I am who you are today // oh, I am who you are today / I am who you are today //
9.
(I GOTTA) BOW MY HEAD // you know, it really creeps in / you don’t notice it at first / even when you’re on the lookout / even when you’ve rehearsed / it doesn’t feel like a big deal / what is one little kiss? / but then you’re up to your eyeballs / you know you’re better than this // suddenly you’re surrounded / and there’s something in the tea / consequently you’ve grounded / where deference is currency / and there’s something to be said / for eloquence and tasty bread / but I’ve always been suspicious / when they tell me / I gotta bow my head // so then you take your first step / and it turns into a dance / and before you even know it / you’re the hot new romance / you hear them starting to whisper / and they start keeping track / a little voice in your head says / now you can never go back // suddenly you’re surrounded / and there’s something in the tea / consequently you’ve grounded / where deference is currency / and there’s something to be said / for eloquence and tasty bread / but I’ve always been suspicious / when they tell me / I gotta bow my head //
10.
Catalyst 05:08
CATALYST // a spark in the dark / cannot go unseen / cannot disappear / cannot melt into the nothingness / or hide behind the night / it is other, it is light // and the eye unaccustomed to illumination shines / and the heart that never felt the sun expands / and the mind confronting chemical epiphany understands // this is a catalyst for completion / a catalyst for resolve / this is a catalyst to launch a thousand ships by / a catalyst to evolve // art at the start / has no memory / has no consequence / has an infinite potential / to become or to betray / just a facet, just the clay // if the eye unaccustomed to illumination shines / and the heart that never felt the sun expands / and the mind confronting chemical epiphany understands // this is a catalyst for completion / a catalyst for resolve / this is a catalyst to launch a thousand ships by / a catalyst to evolve // pierce that paper plate eclipse / and find the words upon your lips / root below and star above / you are light and love // this is a catalyst for completion / a catalyst for resolve / this is a catalyst to launch a thousand ships by / a catalyst to evolve // when the eye / and the heart / and the mind understand // catalyst / catalyst / catalyst //
11.
Stargazer 05:08
STARGAZER // there’s a hole in your heart / in the sky, that’s a part / of the soul in your eyes / like the start of a life / in the stars, in the light / of the spark that was there / when you first looked up // there’s a tear in the dream / like a tug on the seam / that you wear far too snug / so it seems not enough / to be seen to be rougher / than gleams in the night / of that deep dark sea // stargazer / lie here with me / stargazer / what do you see? // there’s a gap in the place / between something and space / where the map has become / more the face than the sum / of the race that we run / keeping pace with a light / that has all but burned out // there’s a knot in the line / like a twist in the twine / where it’s caught in the mix / of the fried on the fritz / and divine is the wish / in the wine as it flows / when we’ve all but drowned // stargazer / lie here with me / stargazer / what do you see? / tell me // there’s a path through the woods / forking out from what should / and what has been the drought / of the good in the doubt / and what could have gone south / and what would have been better / if only for // there’s a mountain to climb / through the smoke and the grime / where the sound of our hope / cannot die in our throats / and the time we devote / to design and to love / only builds us up // stargazer / lie here with me / stargazer / what do you see? // tell me the story / of what we could be / tell me // stargazer / what do you see? / tell me //
12.
Motherblood 04:25
MOTHERBLOOD // I had a vision where I saw her standing / as though on a cliff staring down at the face / I watched her crying her tears into handfuls / of crystalline saline: a grieving of grace // grief that passes from mother to girl / for every daughter a gift to take with her into the world // I watched the passing of legacy teardrops / wind all down the mountain, an unbroken line / spiralling women of sorrow remembered / in their handfuls of memory, dark and divine // grief that passes from mother to girl / for every daughter a gift to take with her into the world // I am the daughter who dared to look down and / consider the gift I’d been given was more / than the curse of our motherblood staining our dresses / and tears became pearls rolling back from the shore // daughter to mother the pearls wound their way up the mountain to find her / matriarch, all of your daughters today bring a gift from the water // grief that passes from mother to girl / from every daughter a gift to take with you into the swirl // a grief that passes to mother of pearl / from every daughter a gift to take with you into the swirl / into the swirl // motherblood / motherblood //
13.
METAMORPHOSIS // metamorphosis between sisters / in a multiverse of bliss and of blisters / here’s the one life where she kissed her / and here’s the one where she’s a mister / cataloguing this metamorphosis / navigating this metamorphosis // abolitionist by ellipsis / in an absolute of ships and eclipses / here’s the one path where she slips in / and here’s the one where she’s a victim / invocating this abolitionist / advocating this abolitionist // parting veils and summer hail / become the threshold home / bleeding hearts while all depart / belie and espy / the journey back to I // photosynthesis catechism / in a feral sun to cell cataclysm / here’s the one breath where she’s rhythm / and here’s the one where she’s a prism / scintillating this photosynthesis / underwriting this photosynthesis // parting veils and summer hail / become the threshold home / bleeding hearts while all depart / belie and espy / the journey back to I // coming back to this metamorphosis / welcome home to this metamorphosis //

about

Keep Left at the Fork is an album created as a magical working, designed to be listened to from start to finish.

Its 13 songs were inspired by the 13 steps on the Journey Into Faerie as defined by Brian & Wendy Froud in “The Heart of Faerie Oracle,” and the work of Erynn Rowan Laurie in “Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom.” Each phase of this Journey (and song on this album) is accompanied by an ogam fid, one of 20 symbols of the early Irish alphabet used for study, composition and divination.

This is a Journey into Faerie of the sort you may not recognize. There are no tell-tale signs of wings and pixie dust. It's a modern Second Sight as subtle as it is profound, the truth that hides in plain sight.

As I toured across the US and Canada in 2017 I travelled through 48 states and 3 provinces. I was on the road for 6 months - that was my first tour. Everything in my life changed because of that tour, the people I met, and the songs I wrote because of it all. This album is that journey.

Not all faerie songs talk about the Good Folk. Some are here because of them. Some were written in their presence. Others were written as I walked and drove and sang along a path they've guided and influenced. Keep Left at the Fork is the Work we did together and I'm immensely proud to share it with you now.

credits

released March 19, 2020

Leslie Hudson – vocals, piano
Betsy Tinney – cello
Jodi Krangle – backing vocals
Kristian Børresen – synths, percussion
S. J. Tucker – acoustic guitar
Nathaniel Johnstone – creepy fiddle

All songs written by Leslie Hudson

Recorded at studios in ON Canada; WA, AR, RI, MI USA; and Oslo Norway // Leslie’s vocals engineered by John Cooperider (Mattawan MI) // Mixed by Ken Merkley // Mastered by Jon Tornblom at Transparent Mastering (Hamilton ON) // Printed by Disc Runner (Toronto ON)

Cover painting by Stacy Koviak-Davison
Faerie painting by Laura Tempest Zakroff
Back cover photo by Bryan Koviak
All other photos by Leslie Hudson
Layout by Karl Stahl

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Leslie Hudson Stratford, Ontario

Leslie Hudson is a Canadian singer songwriter from Stratford ON. Her 10 solo albums range from storytelling styles to bluesy bar rock to dialed-up, full-band homages to pop culture. With lyrical piano skills and a voice that cuts through the crowd, Leslie's songs dive deep into archetype and folklore, modernizing ancient voices as she shines a spotlight on the paths women walk through life. ... more

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