Paul Simon sits at or near the top of my list of the greatest musical artists of all time. In fact, I named him as my #1 songwriter on this very blog.
But I must express disappointment with Simon’s last two releases. 2016’s Stranger to Stranger was the most forgettable release of his career. And the just-out In the Blue Light — featuring reimaginings of ten earlier songs — is another let-down.
I recently discovered Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast, in which the brilliant writer dives into episodes from history and draws out lessons that weren’t clear the first time around.
Sometimes Gladwell tackles serious issues such as war or politics; in other episodes it’s basketball or popular music. The stories, and his telling of them, are as fascinating as his essays and books.
Bow your heads in remembrance of the English band Witness, permanent residents in the wastebin of short-lived bands with tremendous untapped potential.
I’m more familiar with Witness’ sophomore album, Under a Sun, than I am with their debut record Before the Calm. I’ve written about Under a Sun a few times, always bringing up how I discovered it after hearing it playing in a record store.
It’s been five years since the release of Toad the Wet Sprocket’s reunion album New Constellation and I’d say they’re overdue for a follow-up. Sure, fans had to wait 16 years between their pre-breakup album Coil and this one, but we’re not gluttons for punishment.
As I’ve written before, Toad the Wet Sprocket is my favorite 90s band. They released five excellent albums spanning that decade before splitting, including a couple that were the soundtrack to the early years of my relationship with my wife. So I have an emotional tie to their music in addition to really digging their sound.
Closing things out on the excellent Daniel Gallup EP is a contemplative acoustic track, ‘Start of Something New.’
This song picks up where ‘Closing Time’ left off, with a little introspective soul searching. It features Gallup’s finest lyrics of the set, especially in the lovely final verse: ‘I think I’m most myself when I’m just acting like a child / And I’ve got time / I think I wanna drive a couple more miles / Yeah the truth is I’m in no hurry / My mind is ruthless, I always get so worried / But I’ll find serenity inside this beautiful blue / The kind of moments I want to pursue.”
What a powerful and wise statement, one that reads like a diary entry but sings like a lullaby.
‘Closing Time,’ the fourth track on the Daniel Gallup EP, introduces a few new twists, from Gallup’s deeper vocals to that nifty horn part.
Lyrically, this is the first song on the EP to explore territory outside the world of young romance. Sure, the narrator starts out reminiscing about a summer fling that dies in the fall, but in the second verse he turns that concept of death and rebirth on himself.
The middle song on the Daniel Gallup EP, ‘Tongue Tied’ is another uptempo track that gives me Maroon 5 vibes, especially in the fabulous chorus.
Lyrically, we are back in the minefield of teenage romance, with an encounter at a school dance leading to a cacophony of jumbled thoughts and emotions. I like how the rushed delivery of the verses mirrors the frenzied mind of an adolescent boy.