The Lovely Few’s “Limited Abilities of Man”

“Before we get too far into 2011, and before all the top ten lists of 2010 have been compiled, you must first pause and listen to The Lovely Few’s Limited Abilities of Man.” -BB

Guest Writer
the lovely few limited abilities of man

out of 10

The Lovely Few
Limited Abilities of Man
December 21, 2010

Before we get too far into 2011, and before all the top ten lists of 2010 have been compiled, you must first pause and listen to The Lovely Few’s Limited Abilities of Man. Frontman and writer Mike Mewborne along with the help of producer/engineer/musician Taylor Bray crafted ten of the most beautiful tracks of the entire year. Is it worth a listen? Yes. Should you buy it before you even listen to it? Trust me, yes. This album gives me hope. It gives me hope that there are people in the world and in my state that have the ability to take real life experiences, such as the love for a woman, spending time with friends, or even a grandmother’s Alzheimer’s, and work them into poetry, into beautiful song.

I learned in language arts classes long ago that a good introduction to a paper is only as good as the thesis. The idea. The basis and foundation for the rest of the paper. The perfect thesis simplified the entire work into one sentence. In “The Ghost Returns,” frontman Mike Mewborne begins this album establishing the tone and pace for the nine remaining tracks. This track is what I would consider the first movement.

The second movement is highlighted by the song “All.” This is my favorite track on the entire album while conversely being the only track I would have changed something. It is obvious in lyrics for the song that Mewborne is referencing his relationship with God. He is speaking of the paradox between the sinfulness of man and the relentless pursuit of his Savior. Mewborne’s airy voice comes through the guitar and bells to say “You don’t put me in the margin, You still somehow haven’t forgotten it all.” The one thing I would have changed: I wouldn’t have walked up to the G-sharp note every time through the progression. It got redundant when it could have been used as a nice change if it had been strategically placed.

I want to make a short note for the song “Puzzling.” Mewborne told me that this song was about his decision to stay in the city of Columbia even as his friends were moving away, and at the 1:54 mark it has the most beautifully programmed chord that has ever been played. Seriously, it is a note that Thom Yorke and Jimmy Tamborello have been chasing for years.

Finally, this album climaxes in the third movement during the song Limited Abilities of Man. This is a song that Mewborne wrote about his grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease. He uses imagery such as “tried to keep the pictures but there’s no room” to describe what it must be like to be in a battle against a fleeing memory; an overwhelming force robbing you of your life and loved ones. The last line of this song is the most sobering and haunting lyrics of the album when he says, “clinging to these pictures in the wind, the limited abilities of man.”

Mike Mewborne teaches high school social studies here in South Carolina. When I think back on all the teachers I have ever had, few have heard but none have made music as good as The Lovely Few’s “Limited Abilities of Man.