“Wow! That’s the best guitar/bass/drum solo I’ve ever heard,” said no one ever while listening to a folk album.
There’s a reason for that. Folk is a gentle brand of music meant to make you conjure up images of wheat blowing in the wind, or that time someone wore a really cool straw hat. Folk music is supposed to convey a story through lyrical brilliance, the music itself taking a back seat. You’re not supposed to know you’re listening to music when listening to folk.
How is the story generally presented to the audience, you might ask? With stellar-fucking-songwriting.
That’s what Randy Aloysius does on the album, Yesterday (Part 1). The crafting and layering of the songs are solid; be it from the subtle trumpet work of Gordon Allen on the opening track “Goodbye (revisited),” to the soft, opening piano chords by Shawn Aloysius on “Like A Song.” Everything has a purpose and fits the mould of what he is making.
I really enjoy the lyrics of “When We Get Older.” It’s not your stereotypical love song, and that’s what makes it good. The whole lyrical progression talks about how he may make mistakes, how he’s bound to fuck up, and how they’ll have some trouble in their relationship, but the underlying theme is that he’ll love this mystery person no matter what, and no matter at what age. It’s a refreshing take on the otherwise bland genre of singing about love.
While listening to this album, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Randy and two other massive folk performers; Ben Harper and Jack Johnson. Like those two, this album is perfect for relaxing on the beach with a subtle breeze cooling you off. However, like when sand sometimes get’s in your crotch and makes you feel uncomfortable, so does this album. It does have its lower points. First, and foremost, are the sometimes pitchy vocals, either lead or backing. It’s nothing to drag you completely out of the songs, but when those vocal melodies are flat, you do feel it. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen all that often on this album. Most times, the aforementioned vocal melodies are spot on and add more than they take away.
My only other criticism is with track five, “Always.” To me, it’s a little too happy-go-lucky. Now, this critique has nothing to do with the actual musicianship of the album, more of a personal taste type of thing. Generally, there is nothing wrong with an upbeat song, but to me, on this album, it feels almost forced and out of place. While the other songs are anchored by some great finger picking guitar work, this is a song all about guitar chords, handclaps, and xylophones. Just not my bag.
All this to say that, although summer is officially over, if you ever want to be in that sunny mood again, just make this bad-boy bump through your speakers, grab a glass of sangria and relax. It’ll transport you to that special place. It’s something I’ll be doing as the temperature outside drops. It’s all about that smooth voice, after all.
Written by Aaron Deck
*edited by Danielle Kenedy