Obviously Embraced


After travelling and giving concerts all over Ireland, it was natural for Tom Roger Aadland to record his debut album Obviously Embraced in Dublin with Irish musicians. Pianist and producer Brian Connor brought in some of Ireland’s finest rock musicians to the sessions. After hearing the recordings, Alastair McMillan, at the time Van Morrison’s private engineer, offered to mix the album, which was then mastered by legendary Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, New York. Obviously Embraced was released in Ireland in March 2007, and in Norway six months later. Songs especially noted by the critics were Timelock and the title track Obviously Embraced.


  • 1Alphabet of Love

    A – for the angels that did depart
    B – for the bitterness instilled in our hearts
    C – can’t you see you do me wrong?
    D – we’re on a detour from where we belong
    E – for the easiness with which you let things be
    F – while my poor heart burns in effigy
    G – for some gentle rain from above
    H – for the hostages of love
    I – for the ice-water in my veins
    J – for the jaybirds that mock my pain
    K – I’ll never be OK on my own
    L – for a lever to move that heart of stone
    M – for our self-inflicted misery
    N – for the never-was and the never-will-be
    O – for opened doors back into lock
    P – for peace of mind so rare in stock
    Q – for the cues you gave that I missed
    R – you are the one without whom I can’t go on like this
    S – for the silence of your empty chair
    T – for the tenderness that we once shared
    U – are on my mind, I mourn my loss
    V – for a vehicle to get across
    W – for the trouble you put me through
    X – for the extra time I should have given you
    Y – why do these love letters spell so bittersweet?
    Z – now the alphabet of love’s complete

  • 2Low

    Have you walked out that door
    Have you been dragged back in
    Has God laid His finger
    So cold on your chin

    Have you caught a faint glimpse
    And you wanna see whole
    The brilliance of diamonds
    The blackness of coal

    Have you ever beheld
    Your lover’s eyes glow
    When all you could feel
    Was low

    Have you been made to feel
    Far beyond reach
    Where you could not be swayed by
    Music nor speech

    Have you ridden high
    Upon this earth’s face
    Have you lost your stronghold
    Your state of grace

    It is sworn by the stars
    And the rivers that flow
    That all shall cascade
    That’s low

  • 3Timelock

    I said something bad
    I nearly ruined all the precious things we had
    Didn’t mean the stuff I said
    Please forgive me, come to bed
    Get some sleep now on my arm
    I will do you no more harm

    Life’s too short, I know
    I snap out of it and there you go
    Won’t you come back into my space
    And bestow your sudden grace
    I’d wear blisters on my tongue
    If I could only undo my wrong

    The air’s so heavy here, so tense
    And this gravity’s immense
    Like some planet in some dark sphere
    But I do love you, please stay here

    Wretchedly I fared
    Try and remember
    The joy and pain we’ve shared
    We can turn this page anew
    We’ve got some past, future, too
    We can change this, make it right
    If we just dodge off this night

    Wind our love back up

  • 4Millstones

    I wrote that song while I waited for you to wake up
    Your sleep back then was so trustful and so pure
    And I filled it with all the affection that I could
    Thought it’d be my antidote, thought it’d be my cure

    Now I understand that something has been twisted
    I see some dubious creatures beneath your bed
    Whoever did this, it was regardless of your features
    They just took a heart out, they meant to fill it up with lead

    I see millstones around them necks
    I see windows where ravens peck
    I see them painting by numbers on your chest
    Millstones ‘round them necks would have been the best

    Right now this river’s rough, I can’t get over
    I’ll have to leave you there and go and re-establish my trust
    But my lapsing faith can’t cover up these visions
    I see a flickering flame, I see you walk a floor of sudden gusts

    The wind carries memories of your soft and steady breathing
    And the sunlight on my finger ignites a soulful pledge
    In my dream I stand beneath you with my arms reaching
    And you’ve opened up the window, you’re standing on the ledge

    I see millstones around them necks
    I see a faint light that falls in specks
    I see them crowding you, see your throat congest
    Millstones ‘round them necks would have been the best

    Well, I don’t know what it’s like to grow up in a snake pit
    To routinely have your expanding soul circumcised
    But I do know there’ll come a day of righteous judgment
    Though it may not necessarily be advertised

    Go tell your doctor a song is a redeemer
    And a beautiful detector of the fractures of the soul
    All while you slept, you glowed with an angelic radiance
    While your half brothers made it big-time dealing coal

    I see millstones around them necks
    I see bleached bones in deserted wrecks
    I see them painting by numbers on your chest
    Millstones ‘round them necks would have been the best

    But I’ll try and stand up to the test

  • 5Down to the Dishes

    I’m down to the dishes now, except for some wine and some bread
    I’ve got a deadline on hold, a millennium winter ahead
    The list of my casualties touches the tiles of my floor
    Along with the names that I swayed from my prodigal door

    You’d been to the dentist when I called from a boxcar last night
    You sounded so fragile, you really did give me a fright
    But I know you are up to it, I think we both know where it’s at
    There’s a wall with your name on it somewhere in a theatre flat

    If you ask what I miss, there ain’t much, really, that I can name
    And if you asked what I’ve got, my reply would pretty much be the same
    And I’ve thought about therapy, I’ve thought about writing a book
    But nothing will capture remotely the way that you look

    When I picture the faces of people I surely have hurt
    I wonder if I was too brilliant when I dug out the dirt
    The wounds in a child, doctor, tell me, how fast do they heal?
    I’m grateful and mourning, I can’t figure out how to feel

    The last nights I’ve spent in the shallowest conceivable pit,
    Where the resonant walls of my Jericho hardly did fit
    I’m down to the dishes now, along with some grief and some shame,
    But I’m prone to be saved by a fragment of your secret name

  • 6I Know I Idolize You

    I know I idolize you
    Do you think you overestimate me?
    Well, as far as I can see
    We need each other
    Like a river needs a sea

    You are my cool adviser
    You’re my real estate trustee
    You’re the shaker of my tree
    And I’m yours now, for all eternity

    Never thought I’d find you once again,
    Never thought I’d lose you
    Never thought I’d find you, even when
    You told me, if I needed I could use you

    I know I idolize you
    Do you think you overestimate me?
    Well, as far as I can see
    We need each other
    Like a river needs a sea

    You are my moisturizer
    So soothing to my dried out mind
    Every time we meet I find
    You’re one to trust, we’re two of a kind

    Never thought my feet could get so cold,
    Never thought I’d get scalded
    Never thought you’d be for me to hold,
    The ascension never hurt, but then the fall did

    I know I idolize you
    Do you think you overestimate me?
    Well, as far as I can see
    We need each other
    Like a river needs a sea

    You are my tranquilizer
    You’re the stirrer of my scene
    And you fill the gap between
    What is and what could have been

  • 7Us Everything

    I buried my strange heart
    In the innocent snow
    I should feel at home here,
    But I just don’t know
    How long I can stay here
    With a face of content,
    Better tend to my flock now
    And crawl to my tent
    And curl up beside you
    And plan for a spring
    That’s gonna deliver us everything

    This silvery landscape
    Where our troubles did start
    I was unable to conjure
    A straight line from my heart
    I strayed from the center
    With its foretelling boom
    Anywhere that I’d enter,
    You’d just left the room
    And the messengers perished
    And the birds ceased to sing
    That were gonna deliver us everything

    Surrounded by fences
    That followed me through
    You slipped from my senses
    Like a blurry tattoo
    I abandoned my village
    To climb the steep hills
    I found, for each challenge,
    There’s a faint set of drills
    I reached out towards you
    To hand you the ring
    That’s gonna deliver us everything

    When things started falling,
    I’d long hit the ground
    You may have been calling,
    But I heard no sound
    You may’ve been expecting,
    But there’s nothing I’d bring
    That’s gonna deliver us everything

    I’ll soon be departing
    From this slavery coast
    I’ll search up my heartland
    And debate with my ghost
    Stay in vicinity,
    I believe that’s the code,
    From the pillars of trinity
    To the narrowest road
    The ground has a warning
    And the air has a sting
    That’s gonna deliver us everything

  • 8Confidentially Baby

    I got a note from the cleaner of your slates
    Said several people could swear they’d seen me showing several human traits
    I recognize their statements, but did they recognize my states?
    Your body and soul, I wanted both
    Now, I don’t go for gossip, but I got some news from one of my connections
    Several of these people were observed practicing perversions to perfection
    I just think it might be wise if you did lend it some reflections
    They were drawing lots for your clothes

    Confidentially, baby,
    This is a dangerous place
    Around here there’s a jaw for a tooth
    Consequently, maybe
    We’d change our directions and our pace
    If you’ll let go of your traditions,
    I’ll let go of my truth

    I spoke to your cousin, he always was the cleverest
    He hired the Empire State Building when he realized he couldn’t have the Mount Everest
    And declared that he’d go through the moments considered the hardest and the heaviest
    Let go of his possessions and desires
    I watched you watching him and from the viewpoint of my solitude,
    I saw something that upset me and though it’s not my habit to intrude,
    Now I know I should have told you, although I might have disturbed your mood
    He had it all tied up with hidden wires

    Confidentially, baby,
    This is a dangerous place
    You know there’s no easy way out
    Consequently, maybe
    We’d change our directions and our pace
    If you’ll let go of your destiny,
    I’ll let go of my doubt

    The way I had your poems published in some phony magazine
    After bottling your breath for some brewer who claimed that he could turn water into gasoline,
    With your determined dreams, I don’t blame you for deciding to turn off that machine
    Still, sometimes I wish you’d come home
    Well, the kind of people I always felt related to were men like Elijah and Ulysses
    Just like when I heard you’d left town that night with a very young man as Mr. and Mrs.
    In a jet plane bound for Babylon with her bribery and her business
    And making that short stop in Rome

    Confidentially, baby,
    This is a dangerous place
    They say just one man got out of here alive
    Consequently, maybe
    We’d change our directions and our pace
    If you’ll let go of your prejudice,
    I’ll let go of my pride

  • 9Transient

    It fell upon you heavily, it took you by surprise
    But water that’s been stirred
    Still reflects a piece of sky
    So take these sunken dreams of yours
    And blow them up so high
    We’re just transient

    I saw you turn to strangers
    Who took turns to turn you down
    To petty-money-changers
    Who never saw the substance of your ground
    Now you stand before them
    Won’t you share what you have found
    We’re just transient

    So you who bear the name of prophets
    Carry it with pride
    The hemispheres may drift apart
    The oceans may collide
    But angels with their flaming swords
    May stand right by your side
    We’re just transient

    These fragments that we whine over
    Shall whither like the dust
    And slowly give way to a love
    That flushes void of lust
    And the frailties we’ve gathered
    Shall be traded in for trust
    We’re just transient

  • 10Ballad of Muddy Waters

    ‘I hear that Muddy Waters is frequenting these fairs,
    With a pack of lies behind her and ribbons in her hair.’
    A stranger thus approached me on top of Emerald Hill,
    I went down with a fever and woke up with a chill.
    Then stumbled to my bare feet, a-wondering what to say,
    And turned towards a creature so finely cast in clay,
    ‘Behold my grave misfortune at this renegade hotel,
    Now take me to these fairgrounds, I will reward you well.’

    ‘I fear I’ll be rewarded in the currency of shame,
    And they call it reputation, by the way, what you call fame.’
    I took her by her collar, said,‘Are you not aware?
    I’ve been deprived of anger to which I was the rightful heir.’
    ‘It’s not for lack of pity I refuse your sorry state,
    Nor on grounds of virtue, Sir, that I hesitate.’
    I let go of her collar and ventured down the stairs.
    She gathered her composure and said ‘I’ll take you to these fairs.’

    ‘It falls upon the gentle, and on the innocent, too.
    I hear the devil needs a showcase, it might as well be you.’
    With these kind words of comfort she agreed to take me on,
    Though blindfolded and naked, of no harm to anyone.
    To ridicule and laughter I exposed this heart of mine,
    With a fever high and rising and my spirits in decline.
    For just like Job before me I cursed the day I was born,
    Like the sparrows in the bushes I felt the sting of thorns

    Awhile my persecutor flourished like a rose
    As I buried my companion in the very ground she chose.
    Through tears and perspiration my weary eyes assumed
    To undertake the verses that would decorate her tomb.
    I knew my time was coming, if no one intervened,
    When someone turned me over and said,‘I’m Jeremiah Spleen.’
    ‘As much as I’m a stranger, I’m the stranger in your dream.’
    I recognized that moment Muddy Waters’ seam.

    Her petty accusations swirled above the noise
    As Jeremiah warned me with low and fearsome voice,
    ‘Some are broken vessels, impossible to fill.
    I believed that truth was brilliant,well, sometimes it’s just shrill.’
    I spied her ‘cross the fairgrounds, her hair was shining red,
    As I stepped up to her charges, she stayed two or three ahead.
    Then, suddenly, she silenced like someone did appear,
    And when she gave a curtsey, I knew the Prince of Lies was near.

    Cried Jeremiah plainly with piercing eyes so blue,
    ‘Her time of apprehension is well nigh overdue!’
    His arms swung low with fury, his voice resembled smoke,
    She turned around to waste him just when my fever broke.
    I threw a burning slingshot from the bottom of my heart
    And got myself together as Muddy Waters fell apart.
    She rubbed her face with ashes, she tore her faded jeans,
    She wrote that name in charcoal, ‘Jeremiah Spleen’.

  • 11Love Should Flow

    Love should flow
    Abundantly like mother’s milk
    Enshrouding you like precious silk
    Heavy from expectancy, ripe with need
    Love should flow
    As certainly as young girls bleed

    Love should flow
    From the canyons and to the stars
    Exhibiting exquisite scars
    Take me through your streets,
    The ones you know so well
    Love should flow
    Relentlessly like children tell

    Love should flow
    Where access is denied
    Where a sad song is your only guide
    Filling every vessel with a pounding roar
    Love should flow
    Abundantly and ever more

  • 12Obviously Embraced

    He was doing research,
    She’d learned by word of mouth.
    Escaping her redemption,
    She’d come up from the south.
    He was vague in conversation
    About where exactly he was based.
    They left at separate hours
    So obviously embraced.

    Later on it surfaced,
    They were each other’s perfect match.
    Her old man did warn her
    He wasn’t bound to get attached.
    She never cared to know the number
    Of eyebrows being raised
    As they prepared for solitude
    So obviously embraced.

    Apparently they broke up
    To the sound of tumbling dice.
    She dropped back on him one evening,
    Saying, ‘I had to check up on your eyes.’
    It certainly impressed him,
    But he was careful not to chase,
    On the walls he’d seen their destiny
    So obviously embraced.

    After their agreement,
    He went down like a cannonball.
    Later he’d say, ‘ If I was losing it,
    It’s ‘cause I really had it in the fall.’
    Clearly he was shaken,
    Though punches thrown were poorly placed.
    To his credit, God knows he took the blows
    So obviously embraced.

    Pursuing her career, then,
    She soon received her degrees,
    But you couldn’t tell whether she was a healer
    Or an afflicted one in search of remedies.
    She carefully examined
    The soft skin that he had grazed
    And could not help but feeling
    So obviously embraced.

    There were rumors of desertion,
    She wondered if he was still around.
    She searched the internet and the churches,
    But he was nowhere to be found.
    When she was lying on them couches,
    Steel-blade-possessed and crazed,
    She still held hopes to find her love
    So obviously embraced.

    One night by the harbor,
    Someone approached him in a bar,
    Said, ‘Come over to our table,
    You know, you can only stretch your luck this far.’
    He could feel the years dividing
    As it all fell into place,
    For there she was, his one true love,
    So obviously embraced.

    The regulars were leaving
    As she took him by the hand,
    Saying, ‘Tell me how you’ve held up,
    Are you still reaching for the grand?’
    At first he was reluctant,
    But then she whispered to his face,
    And so he laid his story down
    So obviously embraced.

    Barrenness and virtue
    Are easily confused,
    People keep up their appearances
    With their hearts and their souls all bruised.
    But when everything is measured
    And all lines have been rephrased,
    Still remain the lines we made
    So obviously embraced.


Produced by Brian Connor
Mixed by Alastair McMillan
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, NYC

Tom Roger Aadland: vocals & guitars
Brian Connor: piano, Hammond, Fender Rhodes
Albert Niland: guitars
Nick Scott: bass
Robbie Casserly: drums, bodhran, percussion

Photography by fin Costello
Graphic Design by Marc Bessant