“It’s 4:30 and I’m not sleeping” opens the album and gives it its name. It starts subdued but there’s indication that the narrator is vitalised rather than exhausted by the liminal time.
Percussive bells enliven the scene even before Perley declares “I’m ready now.” There’s a sense of restlessness and defiance as she sings “sun’s coming up/am I late for the party?” She marches on with early Dylan on repeat as she retraces his steps on 4th Street. A Hammond organ and a Wurlitzer calm the scene.
Let Go picks up the pace with fuzzy Drop D guitar and ’90s indie pop vocals. The sense of restlessness remains: “I’m searching for something I can hold on to/something I can believe in/something that won’t go away.” Despite all this, she’s in good spirits: “what a wonderful feeling/what a wonderful way to let go.”
Back In Town is similarly rocking with a driving riff and cymbal heavy percussion. Vocally and tonally it has a Striking Matches style sound. There’s anxiety and exhilaration in equal measure as Perley navigates the question that haunts many a modern relationship: “is it love when baby’s back in town?”
With notably unconventional pronunciation, He Rides High uses similes to languorously describe an opposites attract pairing.
More similes carry Don’t Look Back, May: “she’s like the ocean/she’s deep.” It’s a plaintive meditation on change and loss: “don’t look back, Mary, it’s already gone/and so are you.”
Snake Charmer is another slow tempo number but it has hints of grit amongst the regret of impending heartbreak: “break it clean so it don’t hurt much in the morning.” There’s evident longing but no shying away from the bitter truth: “just passing me by like a shooting star hell-bound and born to die/and I know what you really need is a cold shot and some strange company.” What a poetic way to describe a silver-tongued user.
The next song seems more lucky in love, though it’s pitched as just as risky for the way the narrator has fallen so complete head over heels; that’s why it’s Dangerous Love. It’s an upbeat pop rock tune with Gin Blossoms jangle and The Breeders’ style chorus.
Friends starts with a siren sound, perhaps indicating what’s to come. We hear an edgy, wary message to a suspected player: “do you wanna be friends?/good things they come on slow.”
Ruby Girl is truly seen and supported: “her hair up high/it’s a dark beehive and it makes her feel special…don’t ever change, no/no, not for nobody.” We learn all about her in just a few minutes: she walks the streets listening to Iggy Pop, and saves up for her dream of starting a new life in New Mexico. Ruby’s anthem is so sweet and warming that we can just about ignore the double negative above!
Local Heroes seems like a pedal steel ballad with a wintry, almost Christmassy air. However, there are darker realisations behind it: “nothing’s ever as you want it/love it comes and disappears/hard times and desperate places.” We learn that she’s describing an independent musician’s hand to mouth transient lifestyle: “all this driving has got me thinking about how small I really am/playing music in some dark room/splitting money with the band.” It reads like an autobiographical message to the haters: “some girls they don’t wish me well/to my face they love and praise me/to my back they shoot to kill.”
Lost and Found is deeper than the slow tune first sounds, with lyrics like “It’s easy to see that girl’s lonely/It’s easy to see she’s been down/It’s easy to see that girl’s hungry/She don’t know she’s lost and found.” She floats around the city precariously, seemingly oblivious to her safety and well-being. The lyric that really lingers is there to makes you think: “all her poets are dead.”
Walk With Me is a love song from one lonely outsider to another, advocating that they run away together so they can be delightfully different together: “We’re on our own out here/chasing down a dream with the windows down.”