Running Red Lights’ “Calls of Prudence” Review

noun: prudence; plural noun: prudences
 1. the quality of being prudent; cautiousness.
“we need to exercise prudence in such important matters”
What comes to mind when you hear the word “prudence?” For me, I imagine a colonial mother. The word has a puritanical connotation in my mind. I think of novels like Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter or even Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Although “prudence” actually describes the quality of wise caution, we tend to hear and think of legalism and restriction.

Running Red Lights seems to take this approach in their newest single, “Calls of Prudence.” The lyrics, musicality and video combine to provide a glimpse into a stark reality. An ethereal, yet simple melody and airy echoing backup vocals pair with a marching percussion that call a struggling dreamer back down to earth. Subtle jazz influences accompany lead woman Scarlett Flynn’s vocals — reminiscent of a folksier Adele — as they reach their zenith.

Meanwhile, a room full of hopes comes crashing down.

In the music video, we see a sensibly-dressed woman enter a home. She removes her shoes and slowly walks to what we can assume to be her childhood bedroom, sledgehammer in hand. Amateur artwork and cliches meant to inspire litter the walls. If you look closely, you will find, written on a wall of the bedroom, lyrics to Running Red Lights’ 2014 track “There’s a Bluebird in My Heart.” With such a personal touch, “Calls of Prudence” must come from a vulnerable place.

With impeccable pacing, we see the woman destroy all that she left behind. All the dreams she had as a child, smashed to pieces. After her emotional rampage, the door closes on the woman clutching a stuffed teddy bear, mourning the loss of her unreached goals and the naivety that spurred her forward.

Were there people we might love?

Were there dreams worth dreaming of?

Abandoned to the call

Call of prudence

The combination of haunting vocals and a dark, folksy aesthetic leaves listeners slightly uncomfortable, but wanting more — a resolution. In “Calls of Prudence” we find a nostalgic mix of sweet and sour, vividly mourning the loss of love and dreams due to the harsh wake-up call of reality. Whether calling out failed attempts or dreams never pursued, the voices in our head strive to remind us that we will never be enough. That taking the leap isn’t worth the risk of falling again.

How I long for a senseless day

A reckless thrill

To turn my back against the dawn

And let the night go on and on

Unaware and free from care

And free to dare

To bear consequence

Despite those taunting voices foreshadowing destruction, something deep inside us longs for more. We cling to the past, whispering to ourselves so no one else may hear our faint hope: Someday.

Someday we will achieve our dream. We will prove our inner cynic wrong. And for once, everything will be right in our own little world.

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