Pittsburgh singer/songwriter Sheridan Woika used his social distancing downtime to record a homespun album called Tell The Squids! Tell The Lobsters!
The album’s music is a stripped-down blend of oddball humor and truly moving observations about love, belonging, and mechanical sea creatures. The horn-accented “I Just Hope I Left A Stain” rides a smoldering, circular guitar pattern that conveys enough emotion to make you feel things before Woika even opens his mouth to sing. Once he does, a stream of unguarded thoughts and memories rushes out, sometimes wondrous and sometimes desperate, often both at once. I’ve always thought that nostalgia is the most difficult emotion to reckon with; the Portuguese language even has a word-–saudade–that explores the concept in a deeper, probably untranslatable sense. The writer Manuel de Melo described it as, “A pleasure you suffer, an ailment that you enjoy.” Woika evokes this feeling pretty much constantly throughout the song; when he sings, “I still remember all of your faces/And inside each one, the spark of something beautiful,” or “I’ll grow up and forget you/But I’m still here,” or “I know you’ll let me die if it’s what I really want,” you don’t know whether to dance around the room or cry. The past and present exist in one dizzying rush, and “I Just Hope I Left A Stain” opens itself to all of it.