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MKE Music Premiere: Astronaut Husband gently reminds us to ‘Shut Up’

A black-and-white image of a man smiling at the camera while holding a black cat and standing in front of a wall of photos.
Alec Grefe

Every week, Milwaukee Music Premiere connects the city’s artists with our listening audience. If you’re an artist with a track you’d like us to debut exclusively on Radio Milwaukee, head over to our Music Submission page to learn how.

There’s a dubious tale about Ernest Hemingway winning a bet for a six-word short story — “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” — and thus proving that you don’t need to be long-winded to be devastating.

Astronaut Husband, the solo project of Alec Grefe, doesn’t quite hit those levels of succinctness on new single “Shut Up,” but does manage to communicate a heartbreaking tale with impressive efficiency. In only eight lines, the song’s central figure has love, knows what he needs to do to keep it, fails to do so, and finally loses love. It’s an aching story told quickly enough that we can reproduce it in its entirety:

Love you forever
Promised I would
Shut up shut up shut up I should
Shut up shut up shut up I should

Almost had you
Almost your man
But shut up shut up shut up I can't
Shut up shut up shut up I can't

The melancholy tone would fit right alongside the likes of Sufjan Stevens and Eliot Smith, as would the track’s general sound. There’s no need to dress up something this dour, and Grefe is happy to oblige with little more than acoustic guitar and his own doubled-up vocals. He mixes in a few other elements, but nothing to distract from the overall message. As he noted, “It's a simple song about talking too much. Everybody needs to take a chill pill. I beg you.”

“Shut Up” makes that task easy to swallow. You can listen to it for the first time here before it joins the rest of Astronaut Husband’s recent efforts on his new album, Off to Nowhere, coming out this Friday, Jan. 26 (check it out on Bandcamp here).