I started working on this album alongside Wild Wild Love. Back then, the working title was Lies and it was a darker record. The tone was one of succumbing to forces beyond your control. Eventually (and thankfully), it became more like a battle, as the voice of resistance began to find its way through.
I’ve never been someone who does a lot of songwriting revision, but I ended up laboring over “Perestroika On My Mind” more than any song I’d written before, trying to find the right way to set the tone. The word “perestroika” (literally “restructuring”) was used in Soviet Russia to describe an opening up of the political and economic system, and I thought it was just obscure, vague and fitting enough to describe what this album was about. In fact, the writing of “Perestroika On My Mind” never clicked until that word came, and the rest of the album flowed from there.
In the end, Perestroika is about battles – political, spiritual, personal – which ones to fight and which ones to surrender. Some of the songs go to some dark places, but there is always some defiance, some hope just around the corner.
Upon moving back to Massachusetts, I put a new band together to play the album. Playing the closing song, “By the Light of the Lantern We Go,” became one of my favorite live experiences. There is an element of hopeful catharsis there that I wish I could tap into more often. While I no longer feel much of the desperation that went into this album, I can always get behind that call to “start up the bonfire!”