Hailing from Oregon, Dirk Sullivan and Andrew Paul Woodworth, are better known as the duo Alma Mater.
Released several weeks ago, The Beginning of Everything, finds the folk rock duo tackling themes of parenthood, loss, empathy and more.
No strangers to the music scene, both men carved their musical journeys in Los Angeles and Portland with each signing to major labels Interscope and Sony for their respective projects, but the two started meeting in Andrew’s garage for music therapy during the pandemic.
The two were on opposite ends of the life’s spectrum with Dirk going through a divorce and the slow demise of his mother while Andrew was preparing for his first child. This kinship allowed the duo to experience an explosion of creativity that gives The Beginning of Everything a homespun warming feeling.
LIke one’s favourite sweater or hoodie, The Beginning of Everything is comforting and warming. The music is soulful and the lyrics are touching and at times heartbreaking.
Of the albums leading single, “Fading Moon”, Andrew says,
“I was never afraid of dying until I had a child. ‘Fading Moon’, on the surface, seems like a love letter to my two baby boys. But, in reality, it’s a means to comfort myself from my overwhelming fear of leaving them behind when I die. When pure and intense love is experienced, there is a level of pain associated with it. I’ve never been more happy, but I’ve never been more scared. So this seemingly sweet, folky ditty is really a pretty dark, anxious proclamation.
And on their song, “Mercy”, Andrew says it was a reminder for him,
To be kinder and to be softer when reacting to people who confuse me. Showing another human compassion and patience and empathy is such a soulful way for me to experience pride.
It’s not only the experience of fear, love, and compassion that make The Beginning of Everything a heartfelt listen, it’s also the raw lyrics that deal with life we have all experienced or will experience. It’s the confrontation of fears, the acknowledgement of loss, and the healing power of love that make the album genuine and honest.
With lyrics that comfort and music that hugs, The Beginning of Everything is just like the title says, the beginning of everything for Alma Mater.
MUST LISTEN TRACK: “Big Sideways”, “Family Man”
FAVOURITE TRACK: “Big Sideways”