It was Pizza Night on Friday, March 13th, 2020. The candles were lit, the music was playing, and I had just adorned two old fashioneds with orange peels, ready for our weekly toast. That particular week had introduced Kelsey and me to the term “social distancing,” the idea of quarantine (surely no more than six weeks, right?), and freshly empty toilet paper shelves at the grocery store. Even in that moment, we were aware that what we were experiencing was a moment—the significance of which would only reveal itself in the slow unfolding of time’s many surprises.
We held up our cocktail glasses, each searching the air for a phrase with which to christen the week we had just left behind and the unwritten weeks ahead. And then, with an uncertain shrug, Kelsey said, “To whatever comes next.” Clink.
That phrase came to mean many things to us over the course of 2020.
In those first days, it was an uneasy joke: What could possibly come next? How bad could it be? By the time summer was in full swing, after tragedy compounded upon tragedy, it had turned to something more like dread: What have we gotten ourselves into? Is there a way out? As the year came to a close, the phrase took on tones of depletion, chronic fear, and desperation: Please let nothing else come next. We’re still reeling from this year we’ve had, and we can’t take any more.
And yet, even as the days darkened into an unrelenting doom, we came to know a glimmering thread woven through those days, a strand quietly withstanding, holding fast, holding out hope in the painstakingly obvious observation that we don’t know what comes next.
There Will Be Surprises explores hope's subversive interruption of despair at the frayed edges of our imaginations.Drew Miller
As I reflect on my moments of deepest despair, I’m struck by the sense of sheer certainty that dominates the state of my mind and heart. Despair makes the outrageous claim of knowing everything that comes next—always only endless permutations of the wounds we’ve come to know so well, wounds that will never heal. On the other hand, the only humble condition needed for hope to grow is the mere admission of ignorance. Hope goes all-in on the unknown, because if any party is going to interrupt this ceaseless repetition of despair, it’s going to have to come from the outside, from beyond the scope of my imagination.
It’s going to have to come as a surprise.
Song by song, There Will Be Surprises explores hope’s subversive interruption of despair at the frayed edges of our imaginations. This theme has been baked into every decision: writing, arranging, and producing, as well as the visual art that accompanies the album.
My last project was altogether grayscale, both sonically and visually—we left empty space in the mix and in the cover art. But, in keeping with the songs, There Will Be Surprises is in full color. Arrangements have expanded from a simple guitar-and-piano-based performance to include drums and bass, electric guitars, strings, and the beloved voices of my friends. And visually, I’m thrilled to welcome Kyra Hinton into this project, who has created an original painting for this album’s cover art. At every turn, color is filling the empty spaces.
My hope for you is that wherever and whenever this album finds you, it may travel with you to the farthest reaches of your imagination, stand with you on the precipice, and help you to ask of yourself and of this world we live in, What comes next?