Kramies’ “4:44am” is a Powerful and Radical Yet Fragile and Gentle Reassessment of Work-Life Balance

There is a fragile weariness to Kramies’ single “4:44am.” One imagines it’s the kind of song written that time of day when no one should still be up and at which time no one should be waking up unless they are working the early shift at a coffee shop or on the farm or at a hospital in some mission critical capacity. Since Kramies is a producer and songwriter by trade the coffee shop gig isn’t so difficult to imagine much less being up way too late working on music, his own or that of someone else and having a spare several minutes at the end of a long day to take stock of where his personal life has been and gotten away from him. The delicate guitar strumming and textures that accompany incredibly vulnerable and raw vocals sounds off the cuff and maybe in the initial skeleton of the song it was. Is it strictly autobiographical? Who can say but it is written and performed in a manner that suggests at least emotionally it is coming from a real place of lived experience when you reach the point in a relationship at which you must face your role in its falling into dysfunction. In America and especially in the arts it’s so easy to get into the habit of self-neglect that bleeds over into the rest of your life and get so focused on the work at hand that can stretch out and take up most of your time leaving little room for self care much less the essential activities of maintaining a healthy relationship. Kramies finds that place of regret and a will to work toward making the correction in one’s habits in order to try to make things right. But there’s a layer of nuance and realism that makes the song hit with a subtly crushing force. In singing about how he hits the ground emotionally and stays down Kramies captures that feeling of failure as a human and the sense of weakness that comes from it and in singing “While I’m gone well I’ll try not to hurt myself” and encouraging his beloved that “while you’re alone will you please enjoy yourself” then later that he’ll find his way back home but “this time I won’t lose myself, lest time gets away from me again” the songwriter acknowledges this habit that is perhaps difficult to break because of the nature of his life and bemoans the possibility while also seeking to change it but not knowing how. There’s a power in that acknowledgment that speaks volumes in a seemingly simple song. When the haze of atmospheric drones comes in mid song like how your mind can feel foggy when you’re caught up in things and swept up by the momentum of your projects it’s like an expression of the way you can get into that headspace and not be aware that’s where you’re going because it feels normal. And when that all clears out in the last fourth of the song the clarity of wanting to not be trapped in that cycle returns. It’s essentially an experimental folk song but speaks directly to how we let our lives be dictated by work and how that can warp how we relate to each other without any need for didactic political, social or psychological analysis and that’s why the song hits so hard but with a compassion and spirit of gentleness for those going through these times and definitely for those experiencing the fallout. Listen to “4:44am” on Spotify and follow the critically acclaimed songwriter and producer at the links below.

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