Thursday, June 30, 2016

Kudzu - Brother Oliver (music)

Kudzu - Brother Oliver - Folk Rock - September 2015

Track listing

  1. Intro/Even-Tempered
  2. Gun In Hand
  3. Hello Again, Old Friend
  4. Maybe You're the Same As Me
  5. This Place Is a Prison
  6. Nature's Song
  7. All Along
  8. Darling
  9. Writing On the Wall
  10. Longing's Wake
  11. Outro/The Snake and the Mouse

My Thoughts

Almost a year had passed since the release of Brother Oliver's debut album, Stubborn Fool, and in September of yesteryear, they put another promising album into the hands of those waiting. Kudzu.

For their sophomore album, the brothers keep the purely instrumental tracks (with the addition of electronic elements) as an intro and outro only, but the charm remains. Even-Tempered, the intro, does a fantastic job of wooing the listener in.

The first half of the album is a delight, in terms of both lyrics and music. Tracks 2-5 feature the honest yet sometimes enigmatic writing style that we saw in Stubborn Fool, and I enjoyed those very much. Nature's Song, on the other hand, was unusual, in that it was telling a story, but a fantastic addition to the album. The second half suffers somewhat from repetitive choruses (notably in Darling and Writing on the Wall), but is otherwise held up by the intelligent and honest verses. The last two tracks make for a fantastic conclusion, though, and provide a comprehensive view of the album's themes.

The central, uniting theme behind Kudzu was hard to come by on my own, but Andrew, one of the duo, helped to clear it up: "The first half is real light hearted, almost happy go lucky at times. But then realism kind of has its way of sneaking back in as the album turns the corner. I look at it as a life and death kind of deal. Like as in the Kudzu plant, the excessive growth of one thing is the death of another."

Over the course of the album, I found that those competing forces seem to be self-love and love for another. While Stubborn Fool spoke more of self-examination, Kudzu regards the self in respect to a partner, and possibly familial and friendly relations as well. As Andrew explained, the first half portrays a diverted and happy countenance, but the second returns to the reality of the situation, as if the subject were on a Solomon-like search for satisfaction, and ultimately found none in it. Instead, the subject found someone, and this required that his self-love give way. "The excessive growth of one thing is the death of another."

While this seems hopeful, this theme is more a warning to consider the opposite. That is, the excessive growth of unhealthy desires could likewise be the death of a relationship. If you're asking yourself why you should bother with that kind of responsibility, the final lyrical piece of the album has the answer. The title itself conveys this feeling: Longing's Wake. But to put it in further terms: "We see the longing’s wake, leading to what makes us whole. We’re found and seen and known, nevermore to have to hide again."

In conclusion, this album is another lyrical pleasure, especially after a few listens. While it suffers from some repetition in a few tracks, the brooding honesty and instrumental swells that I've come to expect from Brother Oliver are still there.

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