There are numerous reason civilizations settled near waterways. The sustenance of life certainly sits at the top of the list, with travel and trade, industry and innovation also making the grade. In the northeast U.S., so many small towns cropped up around rivers with mills beating at the heart of them. Many of those mills still stand, now serving as hipster lofts and wedding venues.

It’s from that idea and imagery that Mark Erelli wrote “The River Always Wins” with Berklee College of Music professor and singer/songwriter Susan Cattaneo. A highlight off his just-released, career-best Blindsided LP, the song leans into a darkly edgey groove that feels like something Steve Earle would throw down, as Erelli runs through the ramblings of life as viewed from the crystal clear perspective of the river, itself.

“It started out simply enough, trying to describe the tension between a small town and a river,” Erelli says. “One needs the other, but the cycles of disaster and rebirth started to make us wonder if the reverse was true. When we decided to write it as if the river itself were the song’s protagonist, things got far more interesting. The central riff of the song is one of the favorite things I’ve ever written. I could play it for days.”