At the center of every album is a musical thesis. This thesis can be the driving force behind the album, a theme that interweaves songs together, or a feeling you are left with after the very last song plays. With some albums, the thesis is easy to find. On others, it is hidden and requires you to be more than a passive listener. These reviews aren’t about rating an album. Instead, it is about uncovering a musical thesis.
I have been listening to Augustana for a while. I have been lucky enough to see them play live twice: once at the University of Central Oklahoma and the second time was at a small bar/concert hall in Seattle. Both times, I found myself impressed with their raw, emotional attention to detail. With their self-titled album, that attention continues to shine. This time it comes in the form of forcing love to happen. As you can imagine, this leads to a couple of challenges; these become more evident with each listen of this album.
Forcing love can sometimes mean longing for something that may not come back. Of course, there is always a possibility. One of the hardest things to do in any relationship is to let someone go free in hopes they will come back to you. Some will tell you that if it is meant to be free there is nothing to worry about. These helpful little phrases do next to nothing to ease the reality of the situation. Much of this album is about falling in love and trying to keep someone in love with you. I don’t know a lot of people who can’t relate to this.
We as human beings don’t like leaving things to chance. We feast on certainty. Ambiguity frightens us and when it comes to romantic relationships it damn near scares the hell out of us. Forcing love and waiting for love to return is about chance and the reality of the situation. This collection of songs tries in an earnest attempt to prepare you for the possibility of you not getting what you want. It doesn’t answer questions about what you’re supposed to do next. That is in your hands, but at least you know you aren’t alone.
Be good to each other,
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