Hey there, tastemakers! (Since anyone with the good sense to read this blog must be a tastemaker par excellence. . . . ) I assume you've been eagerly awaiting the new Jon Lindsay album, having gotten hooked ever since my post on Jon's first album two years ago. Well, his new LP dropped last summer, and it's absolutely charming. I guess it's about time I finally shared it with you.
A little taste to whet your appetite....
Confession: I've had this post teed up for a while now, as well as two other posts about other tracks on this record. They're all insanely earworm-y and I just couldn't decide which one to write about. "Tiny Violins" is a beauty, but it's similar enough to "Futuretown" that I felt it wouldn't give you a fair idea of Lindsay's range. Then I had a week of obsession with "King of the Offseason," followed by a flirtation with "Margot." Bottom line: get the whole album, you can't go wrong.
Yet "Princess Street" is the one I kept coming back to. It must be the keyboard riffs and musical hooks of the chorus -- god knows the lyrics still puzzle me. It seems like a dark tale of a battered girl, with her "mystery bruises" and "blackened bottom feet," and later verses suggest she's escaped from a an abusive father, or at any rate a stern and repressive one. Not my usual cup of tea, that's for sure.
But there's nothing mournful about this song: it's a lush, tuneful track with a bouncy backbeat and syncopated hooks. Listen to those choruses: "She knew just who she was / And she was free"; "I could have this if I want"; "I will listen to my heart . . . " Most of all, listen to Lindsay's snazzy "ohh-oo-oh-oh-oh oh oh's" between verses -- they practically defy you not to hum along. Talk about triumphs of the spirit -- you go, girl!
The more I think about it, this is what I like most about Jon Lindsay's stuff -- the cryptic stories suggested in his songs, sketched with details so specific, you gotta figure they're autobiographical. I'm drawn in, curious about the lives hovering inside these songs, lives too individial and real to be crammed into pop song cliches.
At the same time I'm swept along by the melodies and by the richly-textured arrangements. (It's almost unfair to discover that Lindsay plays most of the instruments here -- really? Really? Could you not at least pretend not to be so talented, Jon?) I've been thinking about this a lot lately, about the competing demands of crafting your trademark "sound" while at the same time assembling an album where all the tracks don't sound the same. It's a particularly tricky challenge for a sophomore album. (Hey, Marcus Mumford, I'm talking to you, too!) Jon Lindsay acquits himself more than honorably on that score.
I finally realized that I wasn't going to "solve" this song anytime soon -- but that was no reason to keep sitting on this post. After all, you're the tastemakers -- have a listen and see what YOU think . . . .