Ricky Lewis, a folk singer from New England who now calls Brooklyn home, brings a haunting elegance to the listener’s ear with his video, “The City Inside.”
The stark black and white projections, mirroring a speeding subway car on the fast track, play over the singer as the video opens. He stares directly at the camera with a slightly glazed, zombie-esque stare as if he knows a pain that we the viewers have yet to experience. One feels as though you are seeing a future version of Ricky as the piano and energetic guitar dance in the background. The future Ricky comes from a place where to survive in his internal city he had to anesthetize himself from the outside world and ignore the dangerous call of the sirens he speaks of in the song.
Flashbacks follow of brighter days where a twirling girl beckons to her lover, Ricky, filming her on a rooftop. These happier times bleed into the singer waking face down in the surf on a deserted beach, a blackened left eye evident as he raises his head from his sandy pillow. The first lyrics, “Everything is beautiful…” are dripping with irony as Ricky begins to wander down the lonely beach, the cold wind stinging his skin as he searches for some sort of toehold in this new world.
As the flashbacks continue of the blonde smiling temptress and aching lines list alongside the melody, “My love, felt real enough…” we begin to understand that this is a lost soul—a soul who has been battered and beaten down much like most of us in the city that never sleeps.
The song is poetry with all of the prerequisite rhymes but for all of its gripping imagery and the teasing mystery of why the singer finds himself wandering that lonely beach, the viewers are left wanting as the question of what has actually happened is never answered. The melodic summit is never reached.
The faintest glimmer of hope is offered in the last ten seconds as Ricky walks towards his dancing princess on a rooftop with the city skyline as a backdrop. A potential reunion or yet another flashback? The answer seems to be just frames away, but someone cuts the power grid in “The City Inside” and viewers are left staring at a black screen as the final guitar chord fades into oblivion.
Article by: Hannah Soule