They’ve always been musical alchemists, melding worlds and traditions together, taking on the big questions, and crafting bold musical narratives. On greatly-acclaimed previous albums like Guesthouse and Line of Light, they’ve created poetic anthems addressing mortality, embracing our shared humanity, and, of course, longing for love. And they’ve done it while fusing everything from roots-Americana to psychedelic rock to Mexican folk traditions.
And yet somehow, the new album by David Wax Museum sees the band achieving a whole new level of depth and dimension, of scope and scale. Fittingly enough, it’s called You Must Change Your Life.
Suz Slezak and David Wax are the creative couple at the heart of Charlottesville, Virginia’s David Wax Museum. Their heartfelt, deeply personal approach to songcraft is matched by a sound that’s all their own, and by a wildly inventive, boisterous live show. They’ve been building a hardcore fanbase over their nine albums and countless miles on the road.
Mid-2023 sees the release of what they call their “magnum opus”—a Latin term that literally means “great work,” and which in the ancient world of alchemy signifies transformation and transcendence.
They describe You Must Change Your Life as “an openhearted manifesto—a collection that embodies, then transcends bedrock elements of the band’s 15-year career.”
David Wax Museum fans can rejoice that their magnum opus is finally out in the world, just released in spring 2023 via Nine Mile Records. And they can also be glad that David Wax himself is here to savour the moment, too; as he and Suz will tell us, an unexpected and terrifying health concern interceded in the band’s journey, just as they were on the verge of this album’s triumphant release.
Suz and David joined us for a heartfelt conversation from their barn/studio in Charlottesville, Virginia, to talk about how they became a band, then a couple, and eventually a family; and how their creative journey has led from Harvard University to folk music studies in Mexico, from what seemed like a never-ending tour, to their backyard barn, and eventually to the syncopated truths conveyed on this truly transformative album.
To paraphrase the chorus from the song “Luanne,” this new record is a shape shifter and a fate twister; constructing a colourful, multi-layered dream world which speaks to both the most earthly and the most ineffable sides of our human existence. As David sings in “Summer Wrapped in Gold”: “My heart still beats to that syncopated truth.”