Christopher Paul Stelling Asks For Radical Empathy On “WWYLLYD”

Photo by Anthony Mulcahy

Remember, everyone’s suffering / Not just you, sings Christopher Paul Stelling across fire-crackling acoustic guitar. On his new song “WWYLLYD,” an acronym for “When What You Love Lets You Down,” the folk singer-songwriter scavenges not only what this last year has been like, collectively, but those intensely personal moments when “we all on occasion let down those we love and who love us back, and vice versa,” he says.

“It’s a meditation on how it works both ways, and how the easiest path to compassion and understanding when we get let down is to consider what the other person might be going through,” the North Carolina native tells American Songwriter. “Sometimes, it’s not that we aren’t being considered, but that sometimes other people (and we, ourselves) are just dealing with their (our) own shit.”

Stelling clutches to the aforementioned lyric in his everyday life, “as it helps me move forward with compassion,” he adds. This exercise in radical empathy and compassion sharpens as a steel knife grazing flint, emitting sparks with the second verse: Too many of my heroes have died by their own hands / I just want to stick around, he vows. Never wanted to be just like them anyways / Prefer life above ground.

“WWYLLYD” primes Stelling’s forthcoming new album, Forgiving It All, out everywhere September 24 as an independent release. His first indie project in eight years, the album plummets into deep introspection, reflected back through rich guitar chords and his unwavering vocal that reads unequivocally as intimate and towering. Previously, he released three studio projects with ANTI- Records; those were Labor Against Waste (2015), Itinerant Arias (2017), and last year’s Ben Harper-produced Best of Luck.

In other news, Stelling made a surprise appearance at the Newport Folk Festival (July 26) to close out the Busking Stage, which also featured Ben Gibbard, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Middle Brother.

Listen to “WWYLLYD” below.

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