Under the name Field Medic, lo-fi folk singer Kevin Patrick released the album Songs from the Sunroom in 2017. A compilation of songs that he had recorded over the previous two years, the album gains an unrivaled intimacy from its namesake: a small San Francisco sunroom which doubled as Patrick’s bedroom. With brutally honest lyrics, recorded over plucky guitar chords and a lo-fi casio drum kit, the album paints an authentic and insightful picture of an artist who is imperfect, afraid, and angry, though still impassioned and hopeful.
The album opener, “POWERFUL LOVE,” is as upbeat as Patrick gets on the album. It opens, “I got a headache/ But I’m glad that I stayed out late/ I think I love you.” He rambles about his last night of drinking and his lover, writing a quick haiku before joyously strummed guitars envelop a chanting chorus. He sings “You are the face of/ You are the face of/ A powerful love” until the song ends, unable to maintain coherence or contain his emotions in the face of newfound love.
The tone of “p e g a s u s t h o t z” completely departs from this hopefulness. Considering only the opening and closing lines of the song, Patrick has obviously sobered up, both figuratively and literally: “learned to keep your hands to yourself the hard way/ Now you’re old enough to follow your own whims.” He sings like a jaded old man before finding an opportunity for growth outside of his relationship, as frightening as this initially is: “Oh my god it’s spring and love is dead.” Here, he is subdued in his vocal delivery as he trudges in the wake of what sounds like a 64-bit maraca.
This cynicism is merely a mask that Patrick uses to protect himself, a facade he cannot maintain for long; like any abandoned lover he feels grief and regret. “me, my gibberish, & the moon” and “GRAFFITI PAINT” resemble lamentations more than i-want-u-back texts, and they are truly heart-wrenching. In the former, he sings, “I stalk the streets alone now/ Just me my gibberish and the moon/ For I speak a different language/ If I cannot speak with you.” Similarly, on “GRAFFITI PAINT” he sings, “My love's neon & permanent/ My love's like graffiti paint/ My love's a crime by morning light/ So my love always goes to waste.”
This cycle of songs reaches its climax on “OTL,” as Patrick recounts his adventures in search of his next love. He is lost, but no longer so enamored by the girl of the previous songs that he cannot speak in concrete terms; he speaks about himself and his renewed search for love instead of obsessing over his past love. He hangs out at Goodwill, smokes a cigarette on a fire hydrant, reads Murakami, and buys sushi with his EBT card, the whole time looking for his “one true love.” Patrick is self-aware enough to realize, for a brief moment, the absurdity of the song, singing that he is “in the sunroom drunk and recording, emo and horny” before keeping his hope alive and singing to nobody in particular, “I'll make you breakfast in the morning, one true love.”
On “like a feather or a pawprint” he again entirely changes his tune, singing with spiritual hope about genuine love: “I don’t need to see you/ To feel you... Like a feather or a pawprint/ your spirit speaks to me of kinship/ The only love that I believe in/You're a golden railroad/ Shooting through me like starlight.” When he sings, “Just thinking of you, sudden springtime,” the metaphor seems to separate the object of this song from the woman of “p e g a s u s t h o t z,” whose love died in the spring. He is reminded of his past love by a new girl, who may or may not be truly different from the first, singing about both with the same hopeless enchantment. As the songs alternate between love and heartbreak, it becomes clear that the only difference between him and other people is that he records a musical journal in his bedroom. Through this, Patrick’s self-portrait becomes more detailed and gripping; just like anyone else, he loves, he loses, and he loves again.
Patrick’s brutal honesty and emotionally potent musings on love make his social commentary all the more affecting. Although he touches on his status on “OTL” he illustrates the situation more fully on “fuck all of these foolz who are making valencia street unchill.” He watches as San Francisco is gentrified and destroyed, singing, “It was here I was raised up/ It was here that I’ve grown/And now all of these robots/ Have repaved our streets with silicone.” Patrick praises his friend Charlie, who is “on 16th street giving ‘em hell” and keeping poetry alive in the city, before proclaiming his own mission to sing for his “people who have yet to cash in.” When he sings, “I can’t afford a bus pass. I can’t afford to eat well” its impossible not to feel empathy for Patrick.
In life, he struggles like the rest of us. He struggles to make a living, find purpose, and succeed in love. He is completely open on Songs from the Sunroom, a refreshing reprieve from cookie-cutter musicians wrapped in plastic. On this album, Field Medic offers himself not to the world, but to you, and his anecdotes and poetry will touch your heart if you give him the chance.
Photo Credit: Bandcamp.