You don’t need to.
You don’t need to listen to Josh Ritter singing with his eyes dancing on a horizon of fire and brimstone “inside this gilded cage a songbird always looks so plain” to have an idea of the entrapments an artist has to avoid as he goes his way. You don’t need to walk on the bare hum of a stage night after night to understand how anxiety can first paralyze a performer, and then bring out the best on him. And you don’t need to be a creator to understand that the most compelling works come from the greatest struggles – struggles that pitch a person both against himself, and against the very plateaus he is set to conquer. You don’t need to sample one such struggle in the flesh to know how that feels, and the eventual statures it can let you reach. You don’t need to.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
And if you’re going to do it, then this album by Uruguayan artist Gino Tunessi is ideal. Not perfect. Ideal. Because it’s pure zeitgeist. It isn’t named like it’s named for nothing. Through a very personal story, it ends up speaking of the difficulties performers aiming to break through to larger audiences have to face nowadays. Its every note rings with the contradictions that arise from having something like the Internet to make your work publicly available, and the feeling which comes from failing to get the support needed to promote your music right on your homeland. And that’s a common story for people all over the world, of course. It happens in Uruguay, and it happens everywhere there are artists that have something to communicate.
Recorded in 2009 and issued in 2010, “Struggle” was written in its entirety by Gino and produced by Álvaro Sánchez. Gino also co-produced the album, and all instruments were played by him and Álvaro.
On the whole, the sound of “Struggle” is gentle but it doesn’t lack bite. Acoustic instruments take center stage, and polite nods to artists such as Beck abound, with sound effects that end up playing a truly melodic role.
The key tracks are the broody “Pain Killers” and the (seemingly) more colorful “Live Open”. Conversely, “Dreams Of Tomorrow” is a piano piece that clearly deserved a longer running time; it hinted at some potential that was ultimately left unexplored.
In any case, the soundtrack quality of all the songs is what gives this album its edge. From the short and bittersweet “Shame” and “Trash” to compositions which set down the typical “they-versus-us” dilemma all artists must embrace (“Confused”), the songs on offer are different stops and detours in the same roadmap – one that begins on a dreamscape, and that ends up in front of a cavernous sea of awareness. The album’s final song (“Try Again”) marks the end of the journey, a journey that takes courage, determination and (above everything) a tremendous amount of faith.
Nietzsche used to say that the path of the creator is the hardest of them all, the one where adversity takes its largest toll. With its themes of dissatisfaction, soul-searching and the birth of a renewed conviction, “Struggle” analyzes how the motivations that drive the most committed of musicians along are formed.
This album isn’t named like it’s named for nothing.
And like the truest and most meaningful of struggles, it’s not in vain.