Rebecca Ann Henry "Concrete Floor (Amontillado)": Analysis and Interview
It is a rarity in present day to find exquisite music that has successfully walked the line of being entertaining while maintaining a psychological depth. The song and video, “Concrete Floor (Amontillado)” by the artist known as Rebecca Ann Henry (RaH), is not only aesthetically pleasing but it also forces listeners to explore the dark depths of an unsociable topic. A topic that most of us (me included) fail to remember still persists in the 21st century, domestic violence. Through the exploration of this topic, the song and video has given us fans of the arts a truly breath taking piece of work not only lyrically and visually, but psychologically.
Part 1 – Song
“Concrete Floor (Amontillado)” opens with a dream like sound placing you in the clouds. A few seconds into this serenity that sound is carefully accompanied by a softly played guitar and then a piano, slowly evolving the sound into a tranquil melody. On cue, in tune, and balancing ever so well with the melody, RaH’s wide range, captivating, but minimalist voice joins the ensemble. The song continues in this manner until the chorus. The chorus is a bit more of a danceable break down in its own right, disguising the faux increase in tempo with shorter vocals and on beat claps. Soon thereafter, the song eases back to its beautiful melodic tone. In line with the sound, the lyrics are minimal in nature, but exceptionally effective. The short, but precise lyrics bring awareness to domestic violence by expressing its pain. Although this is, the words ultimately aim to empower those who have been abused. As Thomas Jefferson states, “the most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” Through this song, RaH has taken Jefferson’s advice and mastered this talent. It is a truly well rounded produced track from start to finish.
Part 2 – Song & Video
As a writer, it is always intriguing when an artist, musician, person makes a literary reference. When I saw the title of the song, the word in parentheses, Amontillado, sounded very familiar, but I couldn’t quite remember why. I put that thought aside. I was too excited to take my ears on a musical adventure. A short while later, my good friend who suggested I listen to RaH told me to check out the video for “Concrete Floor (Amontillado).” Right from the beginning of the video I was reminded why the word Amontillado was familiar. As it sates in the beginning, the video is “Based on parallels to ‘Cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allan Poe.” Amontillado is a type of wine in Poe’s story. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the short story by Edgar is about a man who claimed to be terribly insulted by another man and vowed revenge. As it states in the opening lines of Poe’s story, “THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.” Knowing the story very well, I was excited to see how the video played out. Without fail, in line with Poe’s story and the song, the video did not disappoint. It is filled with concrete, chains, variances in color, elaborately designed dress, a carnival, and magnificent expressionist dance. It accomplishes a wonderful aesthetic while staying true to Poe’s story, the flow and topic of the song. If I had to describe in one word, the song, video, its topic, its origin, in its entirety…inspiring.
Bonus: Get to know the artist(s).
I always want to make sure that the readers and bands can bond through both a musical conversation and a personal one. Therefore, I asked RaH to finish a couple sentences for me and answer a few questions. Here are her responses.
An opportunity to create and recreate both the artist and the listener. It can take you back, forward, inside and outside yourself. You can find love, lose depression, rediscover hope or rock out. Music is passion and love and the most universal, historic, direct way we know of expressing it.
Rebecca Ann Henry loves to…
Take risks and open eyes. The world is a beautiful place, but unless you find ways to rediscover it you can slip into a mode of walking dead. I also love to surf, do acroyoga, read neuroscience books and nose people (See the TV show Impractical Jokers).
What was the inspiration for the video?
“Concrete Floor (Amontillado)” is an autobiographical commentary on the effects of domestic abuse based on parallels to the short story “Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe. Within the story, Montresor lures his friend Fortunato away from an Italian carnival with Amontillado wine, and then chains him to a cellar wall where he is left to waste away. I wanted to bring the Cask of Amontillado to life, working to capture the hopelessness created in domestic abuse cases in an artistic, yet eye opening manner, while staying true to the style of Edgar Allen Poe. To do this we fused 19th century majesty and modern day illusion with the aerial dynamics of partner acrobatics, highlighting the debilitating effects, confusion and loss of control of the victim in domestic abuse.
Words and lyrics from the video are based on an experience of personal trauma though amazing growth I had with domestic violence at 16.
What are you most excited about in the coming months?
Two things!!! 1. Playing alongside Kronen at The Fox Theater September 4th with a whole new band (I LOVE THEM!). It’s looking now like we’re going to sell all of the 675 spots. 2. Recording the upcoming track and music video for Snake Skin – location soon to be announced!
What is your favorite snack?
I LOVE guacamole. I could eat it every single day. They didn’t have it in Europe and I had withdrawals for an entire month.
Kevin “Big Cat” Tshiamala
Contributing writer for HGMN (Leeway’s Home Grown Music Network)