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Peoria's Jared Grabb documents the effects of the pandemic lockdown on the new album 'Domain'

Courtesy Jared Grabb
“Domain” by Jared Grabb is now available on his Bandcamp page and other streaming services.

The pandemic is still providing Peoria-area musicians with, if not inspiration, at least opportunity and space to create. Peoria’s Jared Grabb had just released a full-band rock album as the pandemic hit. The shutdown squashed any chance of touring for that album. But it gave him time to write what became the reflective acoustic album “Domain.”

“And I just made it basically with the intent that I was like, ‘I don't know how long we're going to be holed up here, this record will probably come out to a world that's shut down. And I'm just going to write songs and make songs at home alone and hope that some people can relate,’” said Grabb.

The album opens with “Life of Absolutes.” It's obvious by the lyrics it was written through the pandemic, and even metaphorically, Grabb used wind and fire to conjure up a storm that ravaged the land.

When I went to the trees, they smelled of a fire.
I saw blackened twigs.
I saw smoke billowing.
When I went to my home, it just wasn’t the same
Since those great winds took its walls away.

“That song for me is almost like an apology to my children's generation for the world that they're gonna live in due to climate change,” explained Grabb. “My generation and the generations before have created the circumstances that my kids are going to have to live in, which is going to be far different from what I grew up in.”

The follow-up to “Life of Absolutes,“ "Romantic Like Before" continues a despondent take on the past decade.

For the first time I wish winter over
It just ain't romantic, like before.

“It was about being in it (the pandemic) and being isolated and being locked down. And worrying about the future of my children's generation … worrying about my future … worried about my community. There was a lot of turmoil with the pandemic, a lot of social turmoil. So that's definitely reflected in it,” said Grabb.

So, we stay up late
No need to get up in the mornings
No job, no take
Just don’t forget to certify unemployment
And, time drags on and on

“For myself, it was a very dark time, I think for a lot of people. But for me, I'd had like 20 years of making music and art, and it had basically been all swept away with the lockdown. It took away all this momentum of like, ‘What's the next thing we get?' And it was kind of like, ‘What do I do with this space?’ And how do I keep myself moving insane and, and whatnot?” said Grabb.

Despite the first two songs outlining anxious conversations with children were and much pessimism to go around when including topics like climate change and immigration and the current political landscape, Grabb shared a little sunshine on the song called “Hard Things."

“Yeah. Oh, for sure,” said Grabb. It's deliberately following those first two songs, because things don't get better unless you do the work to make it better.

It might hurt, might sting
Yeah, we can do hard things
As long as we keep trying

It’s intentionally trying to be a bit of hope, as is the chorus of the last song (on the album) “Bought and Sold.” It's also trying to bring that home that we need to be taking care of each other and fighting for each other and listening to each other.”

Interesting Grabb brought up “Bought and Sold” because that is a song can easily be interpreted as someone with a sense of hopelessness.

Have we been bought and sold?
Have we been controlled by the bait we’re taking?
In a world filled with trolls, like a carousel, around they take us
And it means so little now
‘Cause we mean so little now

“Well, it's both sides of the coin on that one. It's talking about the struggle, but it's also talking about a pathway forward. And yes, it's not just the struggle, it's also saying we need to listen to each other and care about each other and fight for each other.

If we could be
Oh, if we could just be more honest, aware, and forgiving.

“Domain” by Jared Grabb is now available on his Bandcamp page and other streaming services.

Jon is the Program Director at WCBU and WGLT. Contact Jon at lhjelle@ilstu.edu.