Title: Made Us Strangers
Artist: The Young Novelists
Release Date: 2015 Apr 28
Genre: Pop / Folk Rock
License: CC BY-NC
Label: Self Release / BandCamp
This could be the shortest review I’ve written this year. The Young Novelists: Made Us Strangers is a release that just doesn’t need a lot of words. There are just three that sum up how I feel about this release: go buy it.
The Young Novelists: Made Us Strangers
If you couldn’t tell from the introduction this is one of those releases that I don’t have any problems with recommending. it’s well written, well recorded, excellent performance, and just about everything about it comes together to make it one of my favorite releases so far this year.
But, maybe I should talk a bit about some of the elements that make this just clicked from the moment I started listening to this release. First thing is the fact that I love vocal harmonies, and from the opening of Palindrome they nail the harmonies. And they don’t let up throughout this release. Arrangements from staples of 1970’s folk rock like Crosby Stills and Nash and America abound throughout this release.
Then there is the freshness of the lyrical content. From the opening track with lines like “can’t you recognize that your life is a palindrome?” which carry on into “Singer-Songwriter” with the line “You told me I was your only safe bet / then you told me the truth in a voice filled with regret. / The critics always say you weren’t all that great, / but I swear it was your best performance yet.” Just the sting in line was enough to make me sit up and take notice.
But these elements aren’t the only things that grabbed me. The track “Always Make The Mistake” allows Laura Spink to take the center stage and her vocal performance is in a class that is magnificent. Reminiscent of Christie McVie or Stevie Nicks, she treats the words of lyrics and melody of song with such care and heart-felt warmth that it’s a high point of this release…. And that’s only on the third track.
So far I’ve referenced Crosby, Stills and Nash, Fleetwood Mac in talking about this release. But there are elements of many other groups and performers throughout this release. The one that first grabbed me was a very strong influence of Wilco on Palindrome. But there’s more and more influences throughout this work. But this isn’t to say that The Young Novelists is a derivative group. Not even slightly. They have their own unique style and approach to their music. Any resemblance to other groups or performers seems to be deliberate homage to those performers, while still bringing their own strengths forward to make this a wonderful listening experience.
I put this release on as I started to write this review. I’ve listened to it literally dozens of times over the past several months, and it never ceases to amaze me: there isn’t a weak track on this release. I’m sitting here now, and with the opening of each track I start thinking of the lyrics that are coming up, and going “yeah, I really love this track.” This is really that strong of a release.
I said at the beginning that I wasn’t going to write too much or too long about this release. Guess I kind of proved myself wrong on that account: there are just so many superlative things that I want to say about The Young Novelists: Made Us Strangers that my fingers are literally flying on the keyboard as I write this. Now, there is something else that I haven’t mentioned so far: this isn’t the groups first release. It’s their fifth (although the first, massive 40 track release “Goodnight Young Novelist” is attributed to Graydon James, instead of the whole group, and appears to have only been released in digital format within the last few months). I sampled and downloaded the four releases attributed to the whole band some months ago. And, the thing that makes this release all the more impressive is that it is the fourth (and now I realize it’s actually the fifth) solid release from this group. I frequently put all of them on at the same time and just listen to them over and over, especially when I am driving. This is great music for driving.
Now, there is one thing that I said at the beginning of this review that is true. The conclusion really comes down to three words: go buy it. In act, go buy all of The Young Novelist releases, you won’t be sorry.