Track-By-Track w/ Among Savages: Accounts of Friend and Foe

Among Savages (Photo: Sasha Israel)

In specific hands, the art of music can resemble, not just a sonic journey but one with a gossamer, emotional touch. Operating under the moniker Among Savages, Peter Barbee creates a musical space that senses on the level of an intimate invitation. See his latest album, Accounts of Friend and Foe, for further.

Barbee makes rather lovely use of self-questioning; with honest reflections on his own struggles and a feel for things literary, he navigates from moments when words fail us to being careful with love to the “growing pains of being human.” It’s an eclectic mix of alt pop, lush rhythms, ambience, and an artistic heart and since Barbee uses the record to take such an honest look within, I asked him to give us a tour of Accounts of Friend and Foe track by track.

What goes around

“Why does love have to be so hard?”

“‘What goes around’ illustrates my deep oblivion on the subject of love. How to make it stay, or appear for that matter. Love is this ambiguous thing that I spent most of my twenties writing about – love sort of satisfies itself. It marches to its own drum, in its own language. And when I think that I’m close to figuring it out, I am most likely the furthest from it.”

If you see her

“And now she’s looking for a way back in”

“‘If you see her’ is my attempt at tongue in cheek. I was listening to a lot of Bowie at the time, it has a sort of foolish energy to it. Over the top, obscure, and awkward at the same time. This one made up its mind to be what it wanted. Dan (producer) and I just allowed it to stay what it was without dissecting it and rearranging it too much. It just felt fun!”

Getting older quicker

“Hard to be generous when nothing is left / Hard to be strong when you are weakened”

“This song goes through the growing pains of being human. Realizing your own shelf life. It’s something that is as hard to look at because it’s as honest as it is harsh in context. I sometimes wish that someone else had written it because I’ve literally had the hook “sometimes I feel that I’m getting older quicker” echoing through the hallways of my brain for years now. I love it, but it’s like picking up a bad habit. I tried to champion something that people don’t really want to talk about.”

Can’t let go

“Woe is me…”

“This is a very intimate song. It’s like waking up from a beautiful dream, but the longer you’re awake the faster and faster it fades until you are left with just a snapshot or two. The negative or misunderstood poignancy of how a picture paints 1,000 words. It sort of wrote itself.”

No such thing

“There is no end to our love because there’s no such thing as us”

“‘No such thing’ came from listening to a little too much ‘Raising Sand’ by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. I wanted to write a song that would perform best to a dark club full of gin martinis. My sly devil. Finding love at someone else’s wedding.”

Ocean of language

“I had the world to gain but it was you that I lost”

“‘Ocean of language’ is about those times when language fails our emotional landscape. My father told me once that Winston Churchill had used over 60,000 words in his writings – and the average English speaker uses on average 5,000. It’s a crazy idea that we so easily make a mess of the intricacies of our own emotional lives. I should probably go back to college.”

Among Savages (Photo: Sasha Israel)

Stop foolin’ around

“If you love me then, please show me so that we can stop fooling’ around”

“‘Stop foolin’ around’ is one of the more feel good tracks of the record. It’s a gentle calling out of how cruel we can be to one another by not engaging. It’s amazing how misunderstood someone can feel by the playfulness of another.”


“Is it danger that hides behind the mirrors and the smoke?”

“‘Fear’ is one of my favorite tracks on this record. At my best – I am a forward thinking positive person, but there is absolutely another side of the coin that can take over. I wrote it while coming to terms with the amount of superstition I had tucked away in my life from my Christian upbringing. I was always waiting for something bad to happen. Even now, it’s a part of my daily ritual to feel my way through my fears and try to ask myself real questions. What is messing with my head? Me or reality? I wrote this song as a form of self analyzation. It picks itself up and thumps down this melting R&B groove inviting both sides of the spectrum to meet in the middle for a quick high five.”

Art of living

“In my arms you’ll always be in the sunrise of my waking dreams”

“‘Art of Living’ – I had just read Joseph Campbell’s book of the same title. It has a soft introduction to a mindset in which you view your life here on earth, as a human being, as a cycle. There is something to appreciate if you allow yourself to step aside. “All the colors in my head, from black to blue to green to red” is a reference to the “complimentary colors” that are said to have the strongest contrast against one another, but when combined produce black. It’s kind of a curtain falling for the whole album and all of its elements. This one felt the most like a lullaby to me.”

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