"At the Dinner Table" by Cardinality
Photo by: Connor Barrett
Listening to Cardinality’s latest single, “At the Dinner Table,” makes me wonder about the strange and timeless tradition of eating together. Surely the dinner table is not a preferred location for battle. But in “At the Dinner Table,” the Virginia-based duo -- comprised of artist Ty Sorrell (they/them) and AG Himself (he/him) -- ask the hard questions in a song that almost hides them away within a dreamy and gorgeous soundscape. The single’s title clashes with an unflinching confrontation. “All these people love me, I don’t feel it always. How am I alone when I’ve been with you always?” sings the duo in unison. Cardinality’s true talent shines as they are able to create a catchy, melodic tune out of these emotionally intense questions.The unity of their voice amplifies the already complex inquiry: the authenticity of love and community and how it conflicts with our feelings of lovelessness and loneliness. The song leaves all of this on the dinner table.
Immediately, the song entices the listener with a lush, groovy sound. The ad libs and strings in the background create a rich soundscape. Throughout the verses, the percussion is unique and playful and full of texture. The production of this feels so layered but precise. It sounds like a thousand artistic choices coming together for a tightly-wound, two and a half minute experience. As the song moves from one movement to another, the next singer -- AG Himself -- sharpens his focus, and a few of these lyrics really cut deep: “Be careful not to cut your tongue or bite back words you don’t know how to say.” I would not want to be on the other side of this dinner table conversation. But all of these lyrics are sung with the sweetness and dreaminess of the instrumentals of the song. This is such a fantastic balance of two unlike things. I love how casually the singer establishes his wit in this setting, but there is also a vulnerability in this verse. “Never know where home might be…” brings us back to the core of the song: why do I feel alone, why do I not yet feel loved? This longing for home grounds the heart of the song, showing off the singer’s perceptive power in earlier lyrics, and now his humanness and sensitivity.
These questions are reexamined and pushed further in Ty Sorrell’s verse. What I love about this duo is how dynamic and unique both of their sounds are, and yet they are able to coexist peacefully on the same track. Beyond the transition from singing to rapping, even the tempo and energy of the song changes during Sorrell’s verse. Sorrell’s verse feels like a party and Ty even brings us back to the setting of the song, rapping, “Boy you better get this hot, the food is getting cold.” This verse pokes fun at the situation, but before it ends, the artist reminds us of the heart of the song, rapping “These things are really not my passion, thought my music was a phase.” This line is so simple but gives such insight to the singer’s heart and intentions.
This single feels like song, prayer, conversation, and curse all at once. The song feels like a snapshot of life, full of color and shadow. It grazes the surface of a greater world, placing dynamic, conflicting and vulnerable thoughts that are all displayed on a dreamy and luscious musical backdrop. This song reminds me that there’s power in the conversations we choose to have. The dinner table isn’t where I like to confront those who I eat with, but maybe I’ll revisit that idea.
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Written by: Misha Ponnuraju