If you were to only listen to the first three-and-a-half minutes of William Fitzsimmons’ second album, you might be under the impression that he is nothing more than another neo-folk, singer-songwriter type along the lines of Iron & Wine. Sure, there are hints of electronic beats (or “drum stuff”, as Mr. Fitzsimmons calls them), but those dwell below the surface…sporadic at best.
Right around the 3:30 mark, however, things take a bit of a turn. The beat becomes a bit more pronounced…but the song ends shortly afterwards. You’re left wondering what’s next.
“Hold On With My Open Hands” is what’s next, and it just so happens to be one of the best songs on the album. It starts with a simple guitar and William’s hushed voice. Then comes the banjo. Then the melodica. Then the faint sounds of an electric guitar in the background (if you’re not listening, you won’t be able to hear it). By the end of the song, we’re treated to a smorgasbord of instrumentation, all making for something so beautiful you really have to hear it to “get it”.
“Please Don’t Go” is another highlight, chock full of “drum stuff” that really help to drive the song. The instrumentation over top of it is great as well, but, were it not for the imaginative “drum stuff” on this song, it would just be “another song”. With the “drum stuff”, well…quite frankly, it “thumps”.
My favorite lyric on the entire album is found on “Body For My Bed”, where he sings, “My mother warned me of people that would take advantage of my money and my grace/But she forgot to tell me I’m the same.”
There are some great songs on here, some along the lines of Sufjan Stevens or Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s (simple folk songs at heart, but fleshed out with lots of instrumentation), while others make their way into Paper Route territory (pop songs fleshed out with lots of “drum stuff”, and other wonderful noises). It doesn’t matter which style he chooses…it all sounds great. And, in addition to sounding great, it all fits together as a cohesive album. Seeing as how it’s a concept album, being able to fit together as a cohesive album is a pretty big deal.
Look past the songs and you’ll find a story. It’s a gorgeously heartbreaking story of a family broken apart, as seen from the perspective of all the parties involved. I don’t want to say too much about this, as listening to the lyrics for yourself is far more rewarding than hearing someone talk about them. Although the titles of the songs are much like a movie score, in that if you read the titles in order, you can kind of figure out what happens. However, if you’re just listening (or reading) to “figure out what happens”, then you’ll miss the beauty of the story itself. My advice: pick up this album and support a great (if relatively unknown) storyteller.
Essential Tracks: “Everything Has Changed”, “Body For My Bed”, “Afterall”
Favorite Tracks: “Hold On With My Open Hands”, “Please Don’t Go”, “Find My Way Home”
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