Graveyard Court – The Journey

The Graveyard Court Journey – 2011

The Graveyard Court was created by Ryan Black, BB Mayes, and Mark Burleson, a production team known as “The Cleft Way.”  This trio is based out of the Chicago-land area.  The GYC album weaves many different styles and genre influences (from Drum and Bass, Rock, Classical, Jazz, R&B among others) that may seem at first glance not to belong on the same album, into what could tentatively be called a concept rock album.

As a concept album The Graveyard Court spins the metaphoric closeted skeleton, that represents inertia and ruthless self critique, as a literal manifestation, which taunts, beckons, encourages, explains life and the details of an unnamed someone who has done everything right, as a reflection of societies expectations, but remains an empty shell with little self worth.  In other words it is the expansion of the idea of a skeleton in the closet, but this skeleton is defined not as something to be hidden, or an event or action, but rather as “inaction.”  The main character (the unnamed someone) has the life that has been prescribed for him since birth.

He hears in the back of his head “These Rattlin’ Bones” (track 1) taunting him, asking him to consider why his life is as he always expected. He walks, he thinks, he feels the nagging pressure of his own inaction following him around, like a “Shadow in the Park;” (track 2) present yet elusive.  He acknowledges it, and defines the “Stalking Moon” (track 3) that is the skeleton, self-reflecting on himself, while the Skeleton taunts him by finishing his verses and taking over the choruses.

Finally the character acknowledges that “Up Until Now” (track 4) he has done everything for everyone, and nothing for himself.  He has found that he is just like everyone else around him; he is living the American dream.

As the album continues the unnamed someone decides to “Turn the Knob” (track 5) to the closet, and confront the skeleton.  He realizes that his whole life “The Fruit Fell in [his] Lap” (track 6) and he never really achieved anything to create self-worth.  “The Graveyard Court” (track 7) judges him and while sternly stating, “You Stood By” they also give him an opportunity; now that he has this knowledge he can move forward and make meaningful decisions in life.

The unnamed man decides to take a look at his life, blaming “That Skeleton” (track 8) while lamenting that “Nobody knows the Skeleton I’ve Seen” (track 9), all the while knowing that this is his problem and his decision to turn his life around.  So he decides to “Clean[ed] Closet” (track 10)!  Pulling out all of the crap that has weighed him down.  Then he begins to evaluate the situation and realizes that he has only cleaned a closet and that he will not change the underlying life that has been dictated for him.  The Skeleton will “Still [be] Rattlin’” (track 11) and he is just going to close the door and ignore it.  Move on and be unhappy, but not enough to change.

– The Cleft Way