Al Engelman – One Million Memories

7/10 

If Rock and Roll was created for and by the young, when is someone too old to pull up that guitar strap and shake their ass to a crowd of screaming lunatics? Al Engelman attempts to answer that question, with the release of his debut album One Million Memories. Al is a middle-aged family man, who’s grounded enough to know he’ll never sell out stadiums, but also brave enough to know that he can still make music worthy of being heard. I’m 25 years old, and I constantly feel the pressure to give up such artistic “nonsense,” so I have a tremendous amount of respect for the man and his uplifting music.

Be that as it may, does Al (what I will be calling him, from here on out) actually possess any talent? Or is he just another one of those “Golden Oldie” acts, who are doomed to sing “Sweet Caroline,” night after night, in a shitty, run-down pub, until they need a walker? Personally, I like Al. I find him charming and vocally similar to Tom Petty and Stephen Page from The Barenaked Ladies, despite having less of a nasal delivery, and actually being from Chicago. Will his songs change the world? Probably not, but I would gladly blast this in a car on a joyful road trip through the Canadian prairies. The album practically reeks of small town hospitality. Oh and yes, he does have talent; he has a fine set of pipes, and clearly knows how to write a song.

Al’s best material is laid-back, catchy, and just a little bit bluesy. If he hadn’t gotten a nine-to-five job as an engineer, he probably could have cut out a fine niche as a good-old Country music star. It’s apparent that “If I Could Fly Away” and “Pass It On” are sure to be fan favorites, but I think “That Thing I Did” gets to the root of why Al is so darn likeable. This playful rocker comes off as a sheepish apology to a lover, even though he is not exactly sure what got him in the doghouse in the first place. It is so human, you just know that Al is writing from a familiar place.

The carefree nature of Al’s music, unfortunately, gets him into trouble from time to time. For one, most of these songs are so middle-of-the-road that they are sometimes in danger of being run off the road completely. When Al strays from his usual path on ballads “One Million Memories” and “Always With Her,” the results are nothing short of saccharine – the musical equivalent of too much maple syrup on a pancake. The latter is the biggest offender, because the lyrics show so much potential. They tell the poignant tale of an older woman who is forced to deal with her own mortality, and questions her place in the world. Al seems typically empathetic, but he sounds too chipper to truly understand her plight, which is concerning, since he created her.

This album is really just a lot of fun, and most successful when it’s just trying to put a smile on your face. This is sure to piss off most asshole hipsters, who are often repulsed by such optimism. I have had a great time listening to it, and I am someone you could occasionally accuse of such cynical behavior. Al has a lot to be proud of, and I hope he continues to pursue his dream. He’s proved that you’re never too old to rock. I mean, Mick Jagger is still shaking his thang, isn’t he?

Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Kate Erickson

About Shawn Thicke 100 Articles
Since the age of 12, Shawn Thicke has had an unhealthy addiction to music consumption and the need to offer his opinion to anyone willing to listen. Thankfully, since writing at Bucketlist Music Reviews, his needs have been met much to the relief of those close to him. Not only is he an avid listener, but music has pretty much taken over the rest of his life as well. His love of the stage has ensured that he is constantly busy as the lead singer and lyricist of local rock bands Rustic State and Thicke Sugar. The former you can find playing on any given weekend all over the city of Montreal. During the day though, he becomes a member of society and works as a music teacher at the Montreal Oral School for the Deaf. Shawn hopes to one day find success with his own music, but until that day comes you'll be sure to see him at your show, bopping his head with a goofy grin on his face.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for the kind review! I know you you probably have tons of material to go through, and I really appreciate you taking time to listen to and write about my CD. I glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

    • Thank you Al! I had such a fun time listening to your music that it made my job very easy 🙂 Keep up the good work!

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