On his latest release, newly-solo artist Joseph Terrell writes in metaphors and hard truths, every lyric ultimately contributing to the same idea: the end comes fast and you rarely ever see it coming, so it's best to live while you’re living. “Tallest House of Cards” is one of Terrell’s first releases as an independent artist, venturing astray from his typical role in indie-Americana band Mipso, but he doesn’t take on the challenge alone. Joining him on the track is Grammy-winning songwriter Tift Merritt, one of Terrell’s personal favorite writers who also happens to make a hell of a creative partner. “I was really excited to get Tift Merritt to sing with me on this one,” Terrell says of their collaboration. She's been one of my songwriting heroes for a long time, so it's been fun to get to know her. She lives in Raleigh just down the road from me, and we have some mutual friends in the music world around here.” Their physical proximity parallels their emotional compatibility, singing from the same perch in their soul that rattles a listener to the core. As manipulative as the pair is with the words, they are equally poignant in their delivery, solemnly reflecting with the sole company of a guitar.
Self-imposing comparisons to some of history's most tragic couples, Terrell finds a way to make their ending even more damning with his poetics. “We built the tallest house of cards that didn’t fall for awhile,” he sings in punctuation of Bonnie and Clyde’s story; as Dixon and Mason, he sings that “we built a straight and narrow trail that didn’t turn / Until it did;” finally, he writes that “when gravity presents itself, you have to land somehow,” when referencing the relationship of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Terrell’s voice is weighed down by the heavy sentiment at the heart of the song, which he calls “a bittersweet reflection on a broken relationship…even though it came crashing down, it was a beautiful thing that we built for a while.” Though ultimately ending in tragedy, the memories make the hurt worthwhile. Coincidentally, “Tallest House Of Cards” can be described the same; while liable to leave you in shambles at its conclusion, the seismic wave of emotions are only the consequence of better times had.
“Tallest House Of Cards” is one of three singles available from Terrell, all of which will appear on his debut solo project Good for Nothing Howl, out today.