The Inside Track: The Civilians 'Lush and Tumble'

The Civilians 'Lush and Tumble'

Lush and Tumble is the third full-length album from acclaimed Seattle band The Civilians. The
album’s first single, Harder than the Truth, was released 6-2-22 and features longtime Elvis
Costello bandmate Steve Nieve on keyboards. Harder than the Truth has already been featured
on KEXP’s Audioasis show, in The Big Takeover and American Songwriter magazine.
The soon-to-be-released second single is album-opener and title track, Lush and Tumble. This
song roils out of the speakers in a rush of 12-string guitar and pounding drums that
immediately establish a soaring signature riff before the band rolls smoothly into the opening
verse. The lyrics are impressionistic and mysterious (in a good way) and, above all, emotionally
resonant. Lush and Tumble conveys a strong sense of the struggle to be resilient under pressure
and overcome physical and emotional claustrophobia (“You want to be free not trapped like
the boy in the bubble”). The production and the band’s performance match the song’s title,
with lush guitar and keyboard parts weaving in and out in a recklessly graceful flow, pretty-but-
not-precious three-part vocal harmonies driving the chorus refrain, and a tumbling, loosey-
goosey momentum that propels the action from start to finish. The overall effect is both epic
and down-to-earth.

Civilians’ singer/songwriter Chris Livesay on Lush and Tumble…

Lush and Tumble, the album, was written and recorded during the first two years of the
pandemic. We were trying to keep the band together and create new music in a very
challenging, very fluid situation. Great things happening one moment—like getting to work with
Steve Nieve—then everything ass-over-teakettle the next: lockdown, canceled shows, recording
sessions getting bumped. For me, writing the songs and plugging away at the album as best we
could under the circumstances was a real lifeline. Anyway, all the ups and downs of that weird
time got stirred into pot and came out as the song Lush and Tumble.
The bulk of the lyrics came very quickly—which isn’t how it always goes. But, in this case, I felt
like a stenographer as I tried to get the words down on paper as they were coming to me. There
was no time to analyze the song in the moment. That turned out to be a really good thing,
because I didn’t mess up the stream of consciousness by stopping and going, “Hmm, what does
that mean? I just wrote as fast as I could and sorted everything out later. To me, it’s a cohesive
narrative, though a bit abstract in some ways. I don’t like to analyze too much after the fact, but
as I listen to the song now from a more objective place than when I wrote it, I hear this theme
of trying to sort out when a struggle is pointless and should be abandoned versus just going
heads-down and pushing through the inevitable cycle of life’s ups and downs. At some point, I
think everybody wrestles with that dilemma of when do you cut bait, when do you tough it out?
I certainly was when I wrote Lush and Tumble. Anyway, I think the song sums up both the process of making the album and the collection of
songs that comprise the record. As we hit the home stretch, Lush and Tumble emerged as the
clear favorite for the title track. It was basically the emotional road map of the whole

The Civilians will debut Lush and Tumble at the 8-24-22 album release show at the Tractor
Tavern. Stucky Jackson and Peter Donovan will also be featured on the bill.

Lush and Tumble song credits
Recorded by Don Farwell at Earwig Studio, Seattle.

Words and music by Chris Livesay.

Chris Livesay
lead vocal, acoustic, electric, and slide guitars

Kam Gurol
12-string guitar, backing vocal

Doug Schwartz
electric guitar, organ

Jim Jeffreys
drums, backing vocal

Jerry Cohen 


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