Bitter Calm Warns You: “Don’t Look Down”


In their own words, Bitter Calm writes “loud, slow songs about love and death, and they’ve never had so much fun.”

The Alabama-based band formed in the wake of tragedy for founder Michael Harp as he grieved the loss of his father. I love the name “Bitter Calm,” obviously a play on the term “bitter cold.” The name signifies the band’s commitment to honest storytelling — looking grief and love in the face and telling it like it is. Very on brand, Bitter Calm’s single “Don’t Look Down” begins with melancholy acoustic plucking.

The music video consists of an almost eerie collection of what looks to be home videos. With a haunting melody that progresses into an alternative folk ballad, Bitter Calm creates an atmosphere of reflection.

Music of this genre tends to illustrate an internal point of tension, the unfolding of some inner monologue. In the case of Bitter Calm’s “Don’t Look Down,” we hear the story of a man struggling to move on from his past. The music and lyrics carry a longing for some future light, something just out of reach. Our character almost loses hope that things will ever change as he mourns the reality of his own mortality. This theme continues as another element is introduced —uncertainty in love.

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