Fort Worth troubadour Simon Flory grew up on a 40-acre farm in Northern Indiana. As a kid, he worked hard picking blueberries and detasseling corn. His family owned two hayfields and led a simple life –– they didn’t even own a TV.
“It’s very black dirt, and you went to work,” Flory said. “I was born in 1981, but I started paying social security taxes in 1992 because that’s when I first got signed up on the tax roll.”
Even though he entered the workforce early on, Flory warmly remembers what it was like to be a carefree kid. And in his new six-song EP, Songs from Paper Thin Lines, Flory navigates classic themes of family, love, hardship, and heartbreak.
The EP shines as Flory’s most poignant work yet, and it also serves as the gorgeous soundtrack for his new film, Paper Thin Lines. The 7-and-a-half-minute short innately taps into the American psyche as it documents a rural Texas family, the Kirks. Flory said the family reminds him of his own: They also live on a 40-acre farm with two hayfields.
But Paper Thin Lines isn’t a documentary, per se, and there is no dialogue. Instead, Flory recites a poem, and songs from the EP underscore footage of the Kirk children frolicking on the family farm.
Flory, who’s worked with the likes of Charley Crockett and the late bluegrass legend Donny Catron, said he hopes the film will encourage a diverse audience to look past its differences.
“We were all kids,” Flory said. “We all climbed trees. We go through our adult lives just trying to get one foot in front of the other, and it’s really hard to stop and take stock and listen to the rhythms of your life, which go all the way back to childhood.”
With his latest works, Flory proves his mettle as a songwriter, filmmaker, and poet. His sermon of love and tolerance is a much-needed tonic for today’s stormy political climate.
“There’s a long, paper-thin line that stretches from here to there / Through time and space and where I’ve been, what only I have seen,” Flory narrates in the film. “I’ve touched it, felt the weightless moments, now heavy with perspective. / I don’t see it straying through the hard years, tattered by violence, or cut short by loss / It’s just right here with me.”
Songs from Paper Thin Lines is arguably Flory’s most moving work to date. The banjo and fiddle in the opening track, “At Our Kitchen Table,” evoke Appalachia as Flory croons about a waning relationship. In “The Battle of Battle Creek, Michigan,” he sings of a love-spurned veteran who dies after he’s failed by the VA healthcare system. Here, the listener is reminded at once of Townes van Zandt’s masterful songwriting skills and Elliott Smith’s heartbreakingly beautiful melodies.
Flory worked with University of North Texas film students to capture the short, which will premiere at Denton’s Thin Line Film Festival on March 26. Longtime friend and collaborator Dan Stone recorded Songs from Paper Thin Lines in studios in San Francisco and Oakland. Engineer Joel Raif (Son of Stan) laid down Flory’s voiceover at Fort Worth’s Niles City Sound (Leon Bridges, Robert Ellis, Quaker City Nighthawks).
The first Fort Worth showing of Paper Thin Lines will be held at The Post on Saturday. Austin psych-instrumentalists Dead Animal and Forth Worth chanteuse Summer Dean are slated to perform before the screening, with Flory’s band playing after.
Flory said he hopes his work will help people remember the paper-thin line that connects humankind.
“If we would only recognize our shared memories, we would realize our common ground that we all have instead of being so divided,” he said. “It has no borders, it has no barriers, and it certainly has no fuckin’ walls.”
Simon Flory’s EP release and film debut
8pm Sat w/Dead Animal and Summer Dean at The Post at River East, 2925 Race St, FW. $10.