The reception for Phosphorescent‘s seventh studio album has been warm, a slow unfolding of recognition for a collection of songs that reflect mostly pain and rejection. Still, there’s something to hold onto in Matthew Houck’s voice. The stand-out by far from Muchacho is “Song For Zula,” and the video builds on the regretful narrative already established within lyrics like “Then I saw love disfigure me / Into something I am not recognizing.”
In the video, this disfigurment is embodied in a trapped individual, who repeatedly attempts to break free from chains, and repeatedly fails. This song sees Houck—who has put out a record solely composed of Willie Nelson covers and lifts the opening lines of this song from Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire“—firmly situated as more than a borrower, he becomes a creator his own of lovesick folk balladry.