Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Reviews:: Octoberman Run From Safety

Sometimes a journey involves a plane, a train and a backpack and sometimes it just requires looking inside yourself. Too cliche? Maybe, but in the context of Marc Morrisette's new record it is very appropriate. Octoberman started after Marc returned from his travels and wanted to write what he saw. His first record - These Trails are Old and New - was full of his observations and only used the required instruments to carry his voice.

Run From Safety is a collection of songs from a man settling into life with a changed perspective. When you step off that long return flight, all you want to do is tell your friends about what you saw. After you tire of telling the same stories, you are forced to adjust to your old surrounding with your new outlook.

The songs use more instrumentation and really help show Morrisette's urgency. Writing these songs forced him to look inside himself and reevaluate everything he knew - musically and personally. "I need some inspiration in my life", and that desire to be more than just "getting by" has helped him push his song writing forward. The first track - By the Wayside - uses horns, swirling keyboards and a bouncing bass line instead of the gentle strums and harmonicas you've come to expect from Marc. The 5-minute song explodes into a jangly pop song for the last minute, and you realize that you are going to have to throw all of your Octoberman expectations away for this record.

It's not that Marc has abandoned his song writing sensibilities (Run from Safety is a textbook Neil Young influenced track and the acoustic and lap steel the band uses are as comfortable as an old sweater), it's that he expanded on them, adding horns and keyboards to finish his thoughts. The songs have a crunch (Once in a Blue) or sugary-pop coating (Shit Just Falls Apart) that he draws from his Kids These Days experiences. Unlike his last record, he's not forcing you to listen to his tales.

The songs are busier, catchier and the ebbs and flow let you simply nod along happily. On Elbow Room, he adds a choral swoon and a rapid fire drum line to transform the song from a coffee shop background theme. Breath of Sunshine uses mood setting strings to compliment his double-tracked vocals. Cisco Kid unveils the most shocking change. The electric noodles, horns, fuzzy bass and staccato percussion creates a Wild West-style romp that drives itself into you brain.

I guess the most striking thing about all these changes Marc uses on this record is that he won't alienate a single fan. As the hushed tones and gentle strums of Chasing Ambulance fades out to close the record, you've realize you've taken another intimate journey with Octoberman, but this time you didn't have to leave Vancouver.
MP3:: By the Wayside
Video:: Cisco Kid (Acoustic)

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Posted at 4:58 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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