REVIEW: A Break in the Battle —Secret Separation (SINGLE)

A rustic, but twinkling guitar plays. The faint of the piano whispers its way into the music bed. And a charming voice sings longingly — “Secret Separation” from A Break in the Battle is one mesmerizing practice in songwriting. One of this year’s best, the Dallas trio delivers an emotionally rich storyline that both warms the heart and carries the mind to another cavern to explore. This pop/Americana track swells with dynamic layering, but at its simple core is one of human nature’s strongest fears — fear of being forgotten and losing a love one to Alzheimer’s disease.

Originally recorded by The Fixx from their 1986 album Walkabout, some of the stirring lyrics in “Secret Separation” include be brave, there will be no isolation, in our secret separation, you touched my heart…you rescued me, no free me, sings a modest male voice. The voice is almost childlike, coy. It’s warm like honey and amber like a summer sun hitting the lens off of a camera shooting Kodachrome. Within that voice are years of resilience, nostalgia and finally, acceptance. The guitar flutters about, like the calendar days flipping pages. Days become months. Months become years. Years become decades and so on. You wouldn’t have this song being sung by a young voice. It’s a man that has lived a solid life with a beloved parent. It’s a love letter to family. It’s an endearing song from man to his mother.


We’re passengers in time, the male voice continues. This line struck me- I felt like it took me to a spot more like on a train, than say a carousel. Sometimes people get off at stops further down the track than others. What’s interesting in “Secret Separation” is the idea of someone living with dementia or in this case, Alzheimer’s disease, that person doesn’t know they are ‘lost’ or perhaps going on a different train. It’s secret to them…or is it secret to the rest of us? My mind went down that path. I enjoyed how this little charmer of a pop song took me on that emotional and mental journey.

The percussion and the rhythms are just as moving, giving the song a modest bolster. The overall tones and layering in the song are fluid, moving forward and a bit circular. Maybe the song struck me like a pebble dropped in a lake — the rippling effect. I’m not suggesting A Break in the Battle is literal in their circular movement, but it did occur to me that the music bed isn’t zig zagging or staying on one note too long. It seemed to have kept building off the previous stanza — elevating at each moment.

A Break in the Battle is Salim Nourallah, Chris Holt and Paul Averitt. Nourallah is also the producer behind four Old 97s records, The Damnwells and has written several songs with Emily Robison and Martie Maguire (The Chicks). Holt has toured extensively with Don Henley (banjo and rhythm guitar). Averitt is a multi-instrumentalist and is also a member of the band REVOLUTION 9. He also performed regularly with Holt in A Hard Day’s Night, a North Texas Beatle Tribute Band.

Colin Jordan