In his new single, local folk-pop artist Dietrich Strause ponders the reality of love and the heart’s role in it. There’s a muscle beating in every chest (at least you’d hope it’s beating), but is all the symbolism and personification we give to the heart just illusory?

Or, as Strause puts it: “The heart is the assistant being sawed in half, the rabbit in a hat, the Queen of Hearts on the other side of the window pane, David Copperfield blowing up the yacht, the quarter behind your ear. Suspending all the logic, laws, gravity and forces keeping our feet on the ground. Because it feels good. It’s good for you. It’s good for the world.”

But he notes that it is a song of subtle sarcasm.

Strause’s first single of 2019 (the first of a promised several) is just a song of subtlety. It’s quiet, layered with interweaving tendrils of piano and mellotron, drums and bass. It was written and made in the quiet of the woods, and you can hear it. The song was started on Three Mile Island in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire while teaching at Miles of Music Camp, “after many naps and canoe rides.” “Illusions” came from this idyllic setting and was recorded in Maine, all an experiment in learning to produce, under the tutelage of Sam Kassirer.  On this single, Strause played most of the instruments, with an assist from Zachariah Hickman (of Josh Ritter’s Royal City Band) on bass and Sean Trischka on drums.

With Strause doing nearly everything on the single, from writing to performing to producing, it is truly a work of self-expression. But is the sentiment self-referential?

“It speaks to a part of my personal experience. How could it not?” Strause said. “But it doesn’t speak to all of it. Sometimes my personal experience doesn’t rhyme. I look back onto songs I wrote and I remember someone, or a place and time. Or sing something and get a wave of a feeling. But I’m often just remembering the version of them that made it into the song. I don’t ever want to think that my songs are equal to my memories.”

The song is premiering here on Valentine’s Day, and officially releases on February 15. Despite the time of year, “Illusions” is a song that is at best uncertain about love. But Strause assured that “it’s not a love stinks song by any means. It’s not a breakup song to me, today. But it’s also not up to me decide.”

Listen to “Illusion” and color it with however you’re feeling this February the 14. Dietrich Strause doesn’t mind.

You can catch Dietrich Strause (with his band and a string quartet and harp, no less) at Oberon on March 1; tickets and info can be found here.

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